Community plan for Abbeyleix

COUNTY hall has set aside €20,000 to come up with a plan to sustain Abbeyleix.

COUNTY hall has set aside €20,000 to come up with a plan to sustain Abbeyleix.

Laois County Council has invited companies to bid for the contract to draw up the so-called Sustainable Communities Plan for Abbeyleix.

Inviting bids last month, the council said it wants to develop policies and projects to enhance the town's "public realm". It is planned to draw up an urban design framework for Abbeyleix and policies to manage and enhance the town's architectural heritage.

County hall has said that the total maximum cost will be €20,000. The consultants will have to consult with property owners, local authority planners and the public in relation to heritage issues.

"It is a requirement of the study that time is spent sourcing and talking to key stakeholders and the consultant must show a capability to be sensitive and approachable," said the council in its tender documents.

Brian Maher, chairman of the Abbeyleix Business and Community Forum (ABC), welcomed the move as something very positive. He said the it would be important to protect the Heritage Town status whilst also stimulating development.

"What they are doing is coming up with ways to develop the village. It is going to have to have some potential for expension...They need a structured plan in place to determine what the next steps are. We have to move forward," he said.

Mr Maher also welcomed the inclusion of an architectural development area in county hall's new county development plan. He said this would give greater protection to proven heritage buildings.

The council also wants consultants to use the Abbeyleix plan as a case study to develop of best practice guidelines in the creation and maintenance of sustainable places, in terms of architectural and urban design quality as well as social engagement.