New wetlands, woodland, orchards, wildflower meadows and nature trails for the growing population of Portlaoise to enjoy are a central part of Laois County Council's Stradbally Land masterplan, just minutes from the town centre.
The council has no choice about not building on about half of the site, as it is zoned for Open Space and Amenity, and includes the protected remains of a glacial esker, locally known as The Downs with its tall trees and rookery.
The existing People's Park will be linked over the Downs into the new park, and Glendowns housing estate next door will also get a pathway into it, as will the three Summerhill schools while there will be a new cycleway through it connecting the town and schools.
The council say their aims are for a “high standard of accessibility and connectivity, ecological and heritage sensitive design and social and physical inclusion for all” ages abilities and interests.
There is to be a nature exploration trail, along the esker ridge, new ponds, marginal plantng, boardwalks and dipping platforms.
Woodlands will be retained, with a new naturalised amphitheatre with stepped open seating made from local stone, offering a space for informal gatherings or concerts.
In the “'Green Heart“' a central egg shaped open meadow surrounded by an exercise route, there will be orchard trees and urban farming including raised vegetable beds.
It will have a kick-about space, natural style play equpment, an outdoor exercise station, a wildflower meadow, seating and a canopy.
“The elliptical footpath surrounding the space is 400m in length and is intended to form a circular fitness trail and walking route. Fitness equipment as well as play opportunities will be located along its edge.
“Wildflower meadow planting and trees will help to reinforce the edges. Seating opportunities will also be scattered, with some immersed within the landscape and some on the lawn areas.
“The eastern side of the green heart will have a ‘wilder’ character, interfacing with the wetlands and featuring scattered fruiting trees.”
The existing watercourses will be extended and new ponds created to establish an enhanced wetlands area, supporting wildlife, in what is a floodzone area.
Meandering boardwalks, dipping platforms, stepping stones and mown grass paths will all feature and encourage access, encouraging users to interact and connect with the landscape and the water.
The Stradbally Land masterplan also includes provision for 87 homes, mostly apartments, in the small part of the land zoned for housing off the Stradbally Road. To the very south of the site next to three schools, there is to be new outdoor sports facilities and a viewing pavillion with toilet facilties.
Read more in our stories below.
The plan is on view in Portlaoise library until October 25 and online at www.consultlaois.ie where submissions can be made.
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