4. Town Centre

closeddate_range24 Sep, 2020, 4:00pm - 9 Nov, 2020, 4:01pm

STRATEGIC AIM FOR CAHIR TOWN CENTRE

To facilitate the development of the town centre as a place to live, work, visit and enjoy by harnessing the rich architectural heritage of the town, enhancing the quality of the environment and facilitating high quality new development.

4.1       Introduction

The Strategic Aim of the Plan is to promote and facilitate the development of the town centre of Cahir as a vibrant place to work, live, visit and do business. Cahir Town Centre has a strong foundation to build upon. Set within a historic square and close to the River Suir, it has vibrant commercial core, a unique sense of place and high-quality natural environment. Over the lifetime of the existing plan, significant investment has been made, particularly from a tourism perspective and in harnessing the connection of the Town Centre with the Castle and River Suir. The focus of the next plan period will be to deliver a co-ordinated regeneration strategy for the town, to promote and facilitate the re-development of key strategic brownfield and infill sites, to enhance town centre services and residential development and to protect and showcase the architectural quality and historic core of the town.

4.2       Town Centre Regeneration Strategy

The NPF recognises that investment in our towns and villages through regeneration, public realm improvements and the appropriate adaptation and re-use of our built heritage are key factors in creating a vibrant and liveable town centre and supporting the socio-economic regeneration of our wider communities.

The Council, informed by the public consultation process on the Plan and building on national policy, prepared a public investment strategy focusing on four key pillars to be planned, developed and delivered in partnership with stakeholders and the community over the lifetime of the Plan:

 

Figure 5: Regeneration Strategy

The four pillars are:

  • Pillar 1: Delivery of Cahir Market House Business Centre
  • Pillar 2: Town Centre Public Realm Enhancement
  • Pillar 3: River Suir Blueway Enhancement
  • Pillar 4: A Living Town Centre  

The objectives of the initial stages of the Strategy are to create vibrancy around the town centre, by re-purposing Market House as a contemporary Business Centre and re-designing the square to create a pedestrian friendly, living and vibrant environment. Funding has recently been secured through the Rural Regeneration Development Fund[1] to develop Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 through the design stages.

The strategy will also seek to build upon the success of the Suir Blueway, applying best practice in destination planning and building on the many community and tourism initiatives at the river. The fourth pillar of the strategy seeks to ensure that Cahir has a town centre that can attract new residents because of the quality of the environment, the sense of community, connection to services and the availability of high-quality housing.

Figure 6: Pillars 1 & 2 - Establishing a Business Development Centre in Market House and public realm works

The redevelopment of the Square and public realm improvements will offer the opportunity to enhance pedestrian connections with the river, a key strategic asset for the town. North-south routes along the river are already established and the plan will seek to support improvement and enhancement of these routes. The redevelopment of the square will provide priority for pedestrians, and a multi-functional space to support town centre commercial, social and cultural activities.

The Council and its partners will be engaging with the community and local stakeholders as this regeneration plan proceeds through the design stages and thereafter funding will be sought to bring the regeneration plan to the implementation stage.

4.3       Promoting a Vibrant Town Centre

Town Centres historically has been the focal point of commercial activity in rural towns supporting the town and a wider hinterland. The role of the town centre over past decades has changed substantially with the emergence of on-line retailing and the significant decline of residential function. The Town Centre Regeneration Strategy and the policies and objectives of this plan will seek to ensure the vibrancy and vitality of the town centre can be maintained and enhanced in accordance with best practice planning principles.

In retailing terms, Cahir is an identified District Centre in the County Retail Hierarchy, and as evident by a Town Centre Health Check undertaken in 2016, Cahir maintains a strong retailing function with a very low (5%) commercial vacancy level.

 

Figure 7: Town Centre Health Check (Dec 2018) 

The Council, in accordance with the Retail Planning Guidelines for Local Authorities (DECLG, 2012) will continue to support the viability of the town centre, including applying a ‘town centre first approach’ or sequential test for development. The Council will also support the consolidation and expansion of town centre uses on infill and brownfield lands, including the Opportunity Sites identified at Section 4.5 below, and will seek in particular to facilitate high quality residential development and tourism related services. 

The Council will also encourage the re-purposing of properties in the town centre for residential uses and will seek to promote best practice design options, in accordance with Bringing Back Homes – Manual for Existing Buildings (DHPLG, 2018).

 

Figure 8: Manual for Bringing Back Homes (DHPLG)

 

Figure 9: Infill Housing, Georges Place, Dublin (Photo by Marie Louise Halpenny)

The Council, in accordance with the provisions of the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act, has designated the Town Centre as a Regeneration Area and will seek, where appropriate, to identify vacant lands for inclusion on a register and to apply land activation provisions available under the legislation.

4.4       Protecting and Enhancing the Historic Core

Cahir Town Centre has a history of settlement stretching back to early Christian times. The modern layout of the town was largely established in the 18th century and the town has an extensive and impressive array of ecclesiastical, industrial and fortification architecture still in use. The layout and buildings in the historic core are largely unaltered since the early 19th century, and the architectural and cultural quality of the place can support regeneration initiatives in the town. New development within the town centre and historic core will be required to: consider the historic layout of the town; conserve and enhance the setting of historic buildings and monuments; improve existing route ways and public spaces and promote increased residential occupancy.

Original shopfronts in the town centre should be maintained and repaired sympathetically, where possible. Shopfront advertising should be sensitively designed, in particular within the historic core and Architectural Conservation Area (ACA), in accordance with the requirements set out in the CDP.

4.5       Opportunity Sites

The Plan has identified two Town Centre Opportunity Sites, both illustrated in Figure 10 below. In order to promote and facilitate the development of these sites, a development framework and architectural design concepts have been prepared to guide their development. These development briefs are included in Appendix 2 of the Plan, and will be a guide for landowners and developers, to enable the site to be developed in a coordinated way, to maximise their development potential as living and commercial quarters and to contribute toward the regeneration of Cahir Town Centre. The Council will seek to work with landowners and to use land activation measures to seek the development of these lands over the lifetime of the Plan.

 

Figure 10: Opportunity Sites

It is the policy of the Council to:

TC1.

Ensure the vitality and viability of the town centre is maintained and to strengthen its function by facilitating the development of residential, retail, community and tourism services, subject to compliance with the policies and development management standards of the County Development Plan

TC2.

Facilitate the re-development of Town Centre Opportunity Sites (as identified in Figure 10) in accordance with the guidance set out Appendix 1 and compliance with the development management standards of the County Development Plan

TC3.

Seek to develop and improve areas within the town that are in need of regeneration, renewal and redevelopment. The Council will seek to apply, where appropriate, the provisions of the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act, Derelict Sites Act, and use Compulsory Purchase Orders to facilitate regeneration, increase housing supply, employment opportunities and provide community facilities

TC4.

Ensure the enhancement and protection of building and streetscapes within the ACA. In the assessment of development proposals, the Council will have regard to:

  1. The impact of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the ACA in terms of compatibility of layout, urban grain, design, colour and finishes, massing of built form & architecture;
  2. The impact of the proposed development on the existing amenities, character and heritage of these areas; and,
  3. The need to retain important architectural and townscape elements such as shopfronts, sash windows, gutters and down pipes, decorative plasterwork, etc

Specific Objectives

It is an objective to:

TCO4.1

Continue to develop and implement the Town Centre Regeneration Strategy in partnership with the Rural Regeneration Development Fund and other funding sources as may be available.

TCO4.2

Prepare a plan for the improvement of the public realm in Cahir, including proposals for redesign of the square, improving the pedestrian environment for residents and visitors, and traffic management in the town

TCO4.3

Work with landowners and other stakeholders to seek the redevelopment of the identified Opportunity Sites for town centre uses over the lifetime of the Plan.

TCO4.4

Prepare an Architectural Conservation Area Character Statement for the Town Centre to support landowners and community in the protection and enhancement of properties.

TCO4.5

Encourage and facilitate the regeneration and reuse of vacant, disused and derelict sites and to take action, where appropriate, through legislative mechanisms.

TCO4.5

Maintain a Vacant Site Register for the town and to apply the provision of the Urban Housing Regeneration and Development Act 2015 (as may be amended) for land activation purposes.

TCO4.6

Support the development of tourism infrastructure and to enhance linkages with walking and cycle routes and water-based activities.

TCO4.7

Work in partnership with community groups in the development of regeneration initiatives and public realm enhancement projects and to seek funding for projects as opportunities arise.

TCO4.8

Support the provision of cycle parking facilities and electric vehicle charging points in the town centre subject to ensuring traffic and pedestrian safety.

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