Tidy Towns Reports: Impressed by the presentation of Portlaoise

Tidy Towns Reports: Impressed by the presentation of Portlaoise

Tidy Towns Competition 2016

Adjudication Report Portlaoise

Mark: 301

Mark 2015 300

Community Involvement & Planning

The adjudicator welcomes Portlaoise to the 2016 Tidy Towns competition and thank you for your professionally produced submission including lots of photographs illustrating the work that is done on the ground. However unfortunately not all categories were filled in. No Map was provided which made adjudication a more difficult task.

You seem to enjoy a fruitful partnership with the Local Authority and various agencies and bodies in the town particularly the traders who help with the upkeep of Main Street. In particular you seem to be successful in liaising with the 56 active residents groups in the town who entered the Tidy Estates competition.

This is great to see and gives you and the competition a real link to the town’s residents both for support and to advertise your projects. We hope you are successful in getting members of the residents groups to attend your groups meetings.

Built Environment and Streetscape

Your new Local Authority and Local Government quarter with its modern architecture was looking very well on the day with car parking nicely screened and very high standards of maintenance to public areas.

The new 1916 garden of remembrance was looking particularly well with the raised planters here full of summer flowering perennials. It is a lovely space. A tree somewhat concealed the wall mounted Local Authority sign. The imposing stone entrance gates to the Garda station was softened by well

-kept planters to the front. The Courthouse/Art centre is such a lovely feature building for you on the corner of Main Street and the access door beside the ESB would benefit from a coat of paint.

While the lower street level facades of many of your buildings are well maintained make sure the upper floors are not neglected. For instance Tara Court has a well-kept street level frontage but is let down by the untidy wirescape to upper floors. It is noted that the towns Chemists contribute a significant amount to the appearance of Main Street. Breslins Pharmacy was particularly admired with its green painted trim.

But a very special mention must go to Hughes Chemist both for the appearance of their shop front and the sunflower display they sponsored in the empty Shaws store opposite.

This key corner building could have been an eyesore on the street but the bright floral display with its art competition posters beautifully filled the window. We hope they had a great number of entries and well done to the winner. Is this to be the site of your new County Library?

A new play area was being completed beside the playground at the leisure centre. The planted beds here needed weeding.

The Prison and hospital presented an ordered frontage to the Dublin Road. The architects premises at the Old Church is a nice reuse of an old building.

Landscaping and Open Spaces

Pairc an Phobail is such a lovely asset for your town and well done to all involved in its upkeep. On the day of the visit the grass was being maintained with a variable mowing regime to ensure a richer habitat value. Information signs were clean and clear and the tree trail signs were very informative.

The car park area off New Road is much improved with the sleeper planters and as the wall shrubs mature they will only improve the space.

Small interventions have done much to improve this entry point to the park. Fitzmaurice place we are sure comes alive if filled although was a little eerie on a quiet weekday evening. Is this space used for community events or markets as it seems ideal for this kind of activity?

Good luck with your planned Fort Quarter Festival and plans for the Historic Fort here. Well done to all the students involved in the tree planting and blub planting projects during the past year.

The hanging baskets on the main street and around the town for example at the Bridge Street Centre, provided a colorful addition to the streetscape.

Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities

It seems as if a lot of your focus on this category is strategic planning for future works. Your Portlaoise Biodiversity Plan will be a great asset to help you understand what habitats you have in and around the town and how best to manage them. The Esker Hill was visited and the swans were admired in the attenuation lake here. Following advice from the Irish Wild bird Conservancy we look forward to seeing habitat enhancement measures being introduced here for next year’s visit. We wish you luck with the interesting planned conservation and management plan being developed for St Peters old cemetery.

We hope to see progress on this project also for next year’s submission. With all these planned works we see no reason why in the coming years you cannot gain marks in this category as your works get realised on the ground.

Sustainable Waste and Resource Management

The Green School programme has been a great success for you with 14 flags for the town in total. Our congratulations to all of the staff and pupils who put their time and energy into this great scheme.

Have you had any thoughts about joining the Green Homes programme also run by An Taisce. This could be promoted through your excellent network of residents committees and this would be a great way to progress the success of green ideals in the town. Maybe look into this for next year’s submission? Well done in progressing the use of water butts for watering etc. We encourage you to move to perennials as where this has been done at the council office, the effect is really lovely and last all summer long.

Tidiness and Litter Control

Well done on your Tidy Up the Town events carried out in conjunction with the Laois County Council which seems to have been a success for you. These kinds of high profile events are a great way to get the anti litter message across. While the streets and paths were generally tidy some black spots were noticed. Unfortunately again Lyster square and its parking area were quite untidy with what looked like recent litter from a busy weekend.

Along the main street perhaps you can encourage licenced premises to regularly sweep up cigarette butt from outside their premises.

Litter was also noted by benches at the 1914-1918 memorial park which was a pity as this was seen on the evening of the 30th June, a day before the centenary of the war. However overall for a town the size of Portlaoise you have been successful in presenting a generally tidy impression to the visitor.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas

Although this category was not filled out in your competition form items relating to residential areas were included in other categories. Well done to all the resident associations on the hard work they carry out over the year and we wish them every success in the annual tidy estates competition.

This type of competition is a great way to keep the momentum going; healthy competition is always a good way to get residents motivated!

The newer residential areas were maturing well and the tree planting at the Esker Hills development is a real asset, creating strong avenues as they mature.

Remove all tree ties before that rub and cause damage to the tree trunks. The neatly trimmed trees and landscape at Kylebrook were admired with its well-placed name stone.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes

Again this category was not filled out in your competition form however items relating to roads and streets were included in other categories

The replanting of Fairgreen Roundabout is a good initiative. Is there any scope to redesign the hard clock roundabout at Market Square? Would be nice to see some herbaceous planting used here rather than more hard surfacing. Using herbaceous perennials rather than annuals is to be encouraged throughout the town as it provides a more sustainable burst of summer colour and is less expensive to install though perhaps needs a bit more annual maintenance.

The planters at the garden of remembrance show just how effective this type of approach to seasonal colour can be. Side lanes often need particular maintenance and it was felt Peppers Lane would benefit from some attention with power washing and hoeing to remove weed growth.

Concluding Remarks:

This adjudicator was impressed with the presentation of your town and the work the committee has carried out. We recognise the issues that have faced your town and you seem to be facing these admirably with a lot of planned projects for the coming years. Best of luck to you all for 2017.