WITH plans for the permanent pedestrianisation of a number of streets across Cork City to commence next week, businesses are looking forward to the move, which will “change the feel” of the city.
Following an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the temporary pedestrianisation of streets last summer, it has been agreed to permanently pedestrianise 17 streets across the city.
New pedestrianised hours will apply to a number of streets and, once the works have been completed, Cork City Council will begin to give permanent effect to pedestrianisation over the coming weeks.
The first streets to get extended pedestrian hours will be Oliver Plunkett St, Cook St South, and Caroline St, which will be pedestrianised from 11am to 4am daily, Pembroke St and Princes St South from 9.30am to 4am, and the Marina will be a pedestrian zone 24 hours a day. Work will begin from 12 April.
Richard Jacob from Idaho Café on Caroline St said that the extended hours would mean restaurants and cafés along the street would no longer have to pack up their outdoor dining areas by 5pm.
“It’s going to change the feel. It’s going to take that sort of rush of everyone packing up at 5 o’clock and making much more of a laid-back feeling,” he said.
“It’s sending a clear message out that the city is changing. The city is opening up and it is a great place for people to live in and work in and socialise in. It’s not just going to be a place where you drive in and do your shopping and go again.”
Mr Jacob said that businesses along the street were really looking forward to getting back once restrictions allowed them to do so.
“I think having tables outside and having restaurants outside, once it’s done in an organised way, it looks fantastic. It changes the whole feel of the city.”
Green Party councillor Dan Boyle also welcomed the pedestrianisation plans and noted the difference they would make to city life.
“It is great to see this increased pedestrianisation in Cork City. This is an issue that all our Green councillors have encouraged and supported for a long time.
“Without doubt, our participation in Government has resulted in increased local and national resources for these plans. We very much welcome this work happening and believe it [will] lead to a better more liveable city centre.”
Cork Business Association president Eoin O’Sullivan described the pedestrianisation of the 17 streets as “very positive news”.
Referencing the outdoor gatherings that occurred in the city over the bank holiday weekend, he said that the plans would allow people to meet in more controlled environments, such as dining outdoors.
“We all saw the scenes in the city over the weekend. People are very eager to get back out to socialise and I think it is essential that we’re allowed to do so in a safe and controlled environment. I think the outdoor dining offers that experience, while still being a safe environment to meet your friends and family.”
He said that the attraction of outdoor dining would also be of benefit to Cork’s retail sector.
“Retail and hospitality come hand in hand. People like to come into the city and they like the experience of meeting their friends and going in for a coffee, doing their shopping and maybe going for a bite to eat and a drink after, so there is a synergy between the two.”
However, Mr O’Sullivan said he would like to see the Government start engaging with organisations such as the Cork Business Association to start welcoming back outdoor dining safely in addition to click-and-collect services for retailers “as soon as possible”.
“It’s been very, very difficult for non-essential retailers over the last few months being closed and I think not having that outlet of click and collect has been very, very difficult for many business owners in the city. We want to get back to business as soon as possible when it is safe to do so,” he added.