The Draft Portarlington Regeneration Strategy 2030 prefaces its section dealing with strategy with a vision statement for the town centre.
This is, “To create a more viable and visually attractive Town Centre in Portarlington for residents, visitors and workers through the appropriate rehabilitation of Market House and Square and other key buildings, with improvement to connectivity, public realm and amenities.”
The strategy sets forth a series of “principal actions” under various headings including the aforementioned Market House, Market Square, Public Realm, Sustainable Access and Mobility, Sustainable Uses in the Town Centre, the Creation of a Low Carbon Zone, Heritage and the development of Green/Blue Infrastructure.
The strategy sets out that the “approach to be taken in establishing a viable use for the Market House building is to reinstate the building interior to its original configuration and for the resulting accommodation to provide flexible multi-purpose spaces for both Town community and Local Council use.
Plans include that at first floor level, “the non-original walls are to be removed and the original three rooms reinstated with the largest of those rooms to provide a large community and event space while providing meeting rooms for local activities.”
The Strategy foresees the remaking of Market Square “as a place which is usable as a public amenity and event space.”
“Existing traffic movements should be reconfigured within the square to increase the usable space provided to pedestrians while still providing turning movements required for vehicles. “
Key Interventions include: ▪ A reinforcement of the visual and physical connection to the Church of Ireland site and the architectural landmark of the Savoy Cinema; ▪ Reduce the number of car parking spaces ; ▪ Optimise the use of space to feature outdoor dining elements; ▪ Conservation and rejuvenation of the former Market House; ▪ Provision of a significant civic event space within the historic town core as a venue.
The strategy lists a series of actions through which these objectives can be realised.
IMPROVE THE PUBLIC REALM WITHIN THE TOWN CENTRE
The improvement of the public realm to be achieved through a series of actions including the re-design of the public realm leading to Market Square to create a welcoming space; Footpath upgrade on Main Street; Develop a facade enhancement scheme; Provision of outdoor dining areas and animating building forecourts; Pedestrian crossings; A lighting strategy; Develop a wayfinding and signage strategy; Enhance the connecting streets through use of consistent paving materials, street furniture, lighting, and signage; Identify new car parking spaces, re-surface existing car-parks with permeable surfaces; Create new linkages.
PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE ACCESS AND MOBILITY
This is to be achieved through a series of scenarios including: Development of the Town Centre by creating a shared space and an improved public realm; Removal of surface car parking spaces from the Town Centre, of the Main Street and Market Square.
PROMOTION OF SUSTAINABLE USES IN THE TOWN CENTRE
This envisages the creation and integration of residential zones within the town centre to ensure a sustainable community; Identification of opportunity sites; Identification of spaces where outdoor dining opportunities can be developed; Creation of a Trailhead in Market Square for interpretation and connection to nearby attractions; Creation of local food producers' market in an appropriate building or at Market Square; Development of remote working and learning solutions; .Enhancement of community infrastructure within the town centre; Promotion of events to celebrate heritage.
CREATE A LOW CARBON ZONE
This envisages actions such as, Biodiversity planting; New buildings to comply with Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) Standard; 3. Remove all surface car parking from the Square; Reclaim streets for pedestrians and cyclists; 5. Promote sustainable modes of transport; 6. Provide additional electric charge points; 7. Provide additional bus routes and stops; 8. Promote the use of energy efficient heating solutions in public buildings; 9. Promote the efficient use of lands within the Town; 10. Promote recycling and waste minimization mechanisms, a bin strategy should be created for the Town, including appropriate segregation and waste reduction measures; 11. Create a sustainable energy community for Portarlingtonm, which should be informed using smart devices to monitor air quality, traffic and pedestrian movements, and flooding and biodiversity levels.
CELEBRATION OF THE HERITAGE OF PORT
Actions here include an interactive tourist map; Wayfinding signs; Heritage Plaques; A museum could be included in the Market House; ▪ Historic buildings should be conserved and restored.
DEVELOPMENT OF GREEN BLUE INFASTRUCTURE
Actions under this heading include the reinforcement of the green infrastructure of Portarlington by enhancing its linkages to the existing heritage including Derryounce Trails and Lakes, Lea Castle, Carrick Wood, and Emo Court;Further promote this ecological network by establishing a hierarchy of green spaces within the town; Enhance the eligibility of the above-mentioned core areas of ecological network by installation of proper information boards and signage; Ensure protection, enhancement and maintenance of the green infrastructure; Promote local knowledge of the native trees by placing tree plaques; Integrate provision for biodiversity with public open space provision and sustainable water management measures; Extend the existing blueway along the River; Integrate blueway with green infrastructure by native tree planting and incorporating green elements along the Riverwalk; Animate the blue infrastructure by facilitating water-related acitivites, i.e., canoeing, rowing, angling, etc.
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