Minister for State for Local Government and Planning Peter Burke TD, visited Liberty Square, Thurles on Thursday 2nd September to take a look at progress on the ambitious project. The Liberty Square Enhancement Project in Thurles town seeks to deliver a vibrant Liberty Square at the heart of Thurles: a place to live, shop, work, socialise, play or “hang-out”.
It is hoped that the revitalised Liberty Square will become an engine for growth in and around Liberty Square and will enhance the attractiveness of Thurles as a place to live and a place for investment and employment.
The intricate project has evolved and developed over a number of years with invaluable support and input from Thurles Chamber and extensive public consultation which greatly influenced the design of the scheme.
Jackie Cahill, TD, Senator Garret Ahearn, Caothaoirleach of Tipperary County Council Marie Murphy, Cathaoirleach of Thurles Municipal District Seamus Hanafin, Micháel Lowry Thurles Municipal District, Joe MacGrath CEO Tipperary County Council and Eamon Lonergan, Town Manager Thurles Municipal District, were among those that turned out to greet the Minster.
Tipperary County Council acknowledge and appreciate that the Liberty Square project could only be realised through financial investment by traders as a result of rates increases from 2003 and funding secured from the Urban Regeneration Development Fund, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the Smart-Space Programme.
The delivery of this ambitious public realm regeneration project is estimated to cost almost €11 million.
The Council was successful in obtaining grant funding of €5.39 million from the Urban Regeneration Development Fund, under Project Ireland 2040.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland has committed €600,000 match funding to the project, with the remainder being collected from increased rates paid by local traders and development contributions. Land purchased for the scheme by the Council was to the value of €1.1 million.
Tipperary County Council have partnered with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, Interreg and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on this project.
Refer to hereunder for a breakdown of costs and contributions.
Total Project Cost €10,675,000
URDF Grant €5,390,000
Match Funding €4,625,000
TII Contribution €600,000
Interreg Smart Lighting €60,000
Phase 1: -
Funding was initially secured under the Urban Regeneration Development Fund to undertake a high-quality public realm enhancement scheme to the Eastern end of Liberty Square.
Part 8 Planning was approved by the Elected Members of Thurles Municipal District in May, 2017 following extensive public consultation.
Improvement works include: -
• Widening of footpaths to provide a better pedestrian environment and new high quality paving;
• Realignment of carriageways to improve traffic circulation and pedestrian crossings;
• Provision of one signalised and two uncontrolled pedestrian crossings;
• Relocation of some on-street parking spaces to the new Liberty Square car park;
• The provision of dedicated loading and short-term car parking/set down areas;
• Feature lighting including smart low energy lighting;
• The enhancement of Liberty Square through hard and soft landscaping measures, the undergrounding of services, civic space for markets and events and associated signage.
The new Car Park off Liberty Square opened on 1st October, 2020. Land was purchased from 6 different property owners and a vacant derelict building was demolished to create an entrance and facilitate the development of the car park.
Works are substantially completed on the Southern side of Liberty Square and works have now commenced on the Northern side. The planned completion date for the Phase 1 works is Q1 of 2022.
David Walsh Civil Engineering Ltd are undertaking the works on behalf of Tipperary County Council. Integrated design services are being provided by AECOM for Phase 1 of this project.
Phase 2: -
Additional funding was secured under the Urban Regeneration Development Fund in March, 2021 to extend the scheme through the inclusion of the Western end of Liberty Square and sections of the approach roads converging on the Square.
Preliminary design drawings for Phase 2 are currently being undertaken and the Part 8 Planning process will commence in Q4 2021. The Project Management Plan for the delivery and implementation of this project is ongoing.
All those present for the Minister’s visit were in agreement that they look forward to the completion of the project, that will connect the existing streets, spaces and facilities in Thurles town. The Scheme will underpin the long-term vitality, viability and vibrancy of the town through a safer, enhanced and unique urban environment thus attracting new traders and residents back into the Square.
It will also offer visitors an attractive, convenient and accessible landscape to enjoy the heritage, retailing, hospitality and ambience that Thurles town has to offer.
Cathaoirleach of Thurles Municipal District Cllr Seamus Hanafin said that
‘after many years of planning we are starting to see how the finished Liberty Square will look, already we can see that it is going to be a much more attractive and vibrant place for shoppers and residents alike and brings it into the 21st century. The work has caused a huge amount of disruption to both the public and businesses and I want to acknowledge patience shown. I’m confident that it will revitalise and reenergise our town centre and will be a real boost to Thurles and the to the many businesses in Liberty Square.”