City Hall is looking at reversing the Pana ban on new cafes and restaurants

City Hall is looking at reversing the Pana ban on new cafes and restaurants

Patrick St is designated for retail outlets only meaning new restaurants, cafes, and pubs are not generally allowed to open at ground level. Picture: Denis Minihane.

A MINIATURE Kildare Village-style revamp of the city’s historic streets could form part of plans to improve the retail offering in Cork.

City Hall director of strategic and economic development Fearghal Reidy has said discussions are ongoing with retailers in the city on how to constantly evolve the retail experience for shoppers on St Patrick St and surrounding streets to combat the rise of online shopping.

However, he cautioned that long-time traders must be protected as shopping moves toward “family-oriented activities”.

Future plans could lead to the opening up of St Patrick St to new bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, while a Kildare Village-style offering could be implemented on South Main St, North Main St, Shandon St, and Barrack St.

Currently, both sides of St Patrick St and the eastern side of Daunt’s Square, Opera Lane, and Winthrop St are designated for retail outlets only, under the Cork City Development Plan 2015-2021.

The policy means restaurants, cafes, and pubs are not generally allowed to open at ground level.

Mr Reidy has said this may have to change.

“If you look nationally at what is working in terms of streets, Patrick’s St would be up at the top. It’s miles ahead of O’Connell Streets in Limerick, Waterford, and Dublin. The key to that is the offer.”

Mr Reidy added: “What we need to do as a city council is make sure the city centre experience is worth coming to in the digital age.

“That means we need more family-oriented activities, we need improved retail, we need a better commercial offering.

“What’s there now is very, very good, excellent in fact, but we need to sustain that to ensure the footfall increases.

“We will be very carefully looking at the retail offering in the City Development Plan in terms of how to sustain the vibrancy of the city centre as people, more and more, buy online. People want an experience and they see the award-winning shops in Cork and they come into the town to visit them. We have award-winning pubs and restaurants and that’s all very helpful.

“We have to look at the Grand Parade quarter again and get the families going. The other problem is that we are developing commercial leisure — cafes, bars, and restaurants but we don’t want to displace them from the other laneways so we have to be careful about what we allow in the various districts.”

Footfall on St Patrick St has increased 2% since the daily private car ban was introduced in August 2018, according to City Hall figures. In the region of 300,000 people on average have visited the street each month since August.

A British company recently submitted plans for a shopping outlet in Carrigtowhill. Chair of Cork City Council’s economic development and planning strategic policy committee, Seán Martin, said the concept is a possibility in the city centre too. “Maybe we could look at the city and the old spine and see if we could create a miniature Kildare Village in the city along the Barrack St, South Main St, North Main St, and Shandon St.

“Is that a viable alternative to what’s being pushed out there? Do we have an opportunity to create this experience? I think we do,” he said.

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