THE model of Kildare Village’s commercial centre could be replicated within County Cork’s towns and villages, without constructing a €100 million retail outlet centre in east Cork a councillor has claimed.
Independent Councillor Marcia D’Alton said: “Instead of building a retail outlet centre in the county, why doesn’t County Hall treat our towns and villages like a retail outlet centre?”
Ms D’Alton said the qualities that make Kildare Village so attractive are the pristine streets, large public realm, pedestrianisation and a warm and welcoming atmosphere, all which could be replicated in county settlements, with some help from County Hall.
Ms D’Alton, who is also an environmental engineer, said that while the County Hall’s director of planning compared Cork to Galway in terms of visitors and visitor expenditure, he failed to highlight that while Galway receives more overseas visitors and higher expenditure from domestic tourists, it does not have a retail outlet centre.
Ms D’Alton said if Cork is going to compare itself to Galway it needs to look at what it has achieved and why.
“Galway has marketed their town and streets very successfully, marrying the history and culture of the area with a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere that makes for a lovely experience.”
Speaking about what can be replicated in Cork, Ms D’Alton said that Cork should do the very same and interlink the history and culture of Cork’s county with a friendly, clean, attractive, character-filled public realm, that is pedestrian-friendly.
“Why can’t we see what is special in our towns and villages and reclaim the streets and roads for pedestrians?
“We should focus on the character of our towns and villages and their interaction with the people, ensuring they are safe and welcome.
“We should build on the unique elements of our urban centres.”
The proposed centre in east Cork is highly-contested.
Cork County Council is currently defending their decision to vary their County Development Plan to offer strategic support to a Tourist Outlet Village (retail outlet centre) in east Cork.
The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) wrote to the Minister for State Damien English in February asking him to issue a direction on the variation and he has issued notice to the council in March that he intends to do same.