A new plan for the future of the twin towns of Ballina-Killaloe has been approved by Tipperary and Clare County Councils.
The Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan aims to facilitate a co-ordinated approach to public realm enhancements within Ballina in County Tipperary and Killaloe in County Clare, providing a clear vision for Ballina and Killaloe as linked settlements.
Central to all future developments in the linked settlements is the Killaloe Bypass, Shannon Bridge Crossing and R494 Improvement Scheme, which will provide a western bypass for Killaloe town and a new bridge crossing of the River Shannon, changing travel and mobility patterns into and around both settlements.
The objective of the Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan is to proactively prepare, in a plan-led manner, the development of settlements post-operation of the bypass. An objective of the plan is also to propose several measures and interventions that can be undertaken in advance of the bypass.
Specific measures, designs and schemes will promote the towns’ complementarity, and create an overall focus on their joint strengths and opportunities in terms of functionality and aesthetics.
The plan provides opportunities to capitalise on the towns’ assets to collectively expand the tourism product, attract increased visitor numbers and maximise local economic benefits.
The decision to approve the Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan was made at the December meetings of Tipperary County Council and Clare County Council on 13th December, 2021. The plan had been endorsed by the elected members of Nenagh Municipal District and Killaloe Municipal District in November.
The preparation of the plan has been a strategic priority for the Chief Executives of Tipperary and Clare County Councils, Joe MacGrath and Pat Dowling, as well as Marcus O’Connor, Director of Services and District Manager, Nenagh Municipal District and Anne Haugh, Director of Social Development and Killaloe Co-ordinator. The plan from inception to delivery spanned a two-year period and included two rounds of public consultation.
Cathaoirleach of Nenagh Municipal District, Cllr Michael O’Meara said: “The Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan provides a strong framework on which to develop the complementarity of these two towns and provide for enhanced co-operation into the future. Successful collaboration between Clare and Tipperary Councils has been a key feature of the plan’s development, which reflects the tradition of co-operation and interdependence that has long existed in the twin towns of Killaloe and Ballina. Together with a number of new initiatives and strategies for the development of tourism, economic development and Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands around the towns, the Plan places the towns on a strong footing to capitalise on the opportunities these initiatives and strategies offer. The Plan has been greatly enhanced through the co-operation and engagement of local residents, and I wish to express my thanks to all those who shared their views as part of this public consultation process.”
Marcus O’Connor, Director of Services for Nenagh Municipal District, Tipperary County Council, said: “The Plan is the culmination of extensive public engagement over the last two years and represents an important step change in how we deliver services and improve the quality of life for residents, communities and local businesses. The Plan illustrates how the quality of the environment in the towns can be enhanced, how movement and journeys around the towns can be improved and the specific interventions we can make in Ballina to capitalise on the spectacular heritage and setting of the towns. The Plan will compliment infrastructure work already underway in improving connections between Birdhill and Ballina providing improved access from the M7 into Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, as well as laying the foundation for the future development of the new bridge and bypass. The launch of the Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan is timely given that Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan approved the award of contract for the Killaloe Bypass, River Shannon Crossing and upgrade of the R494 project in December. I look forward to the implementation of the Plan which will provide a coordinated approach to managing and marketing both towns and their amenities which will yield significant advantages for the future tourism offering, which is so important to our local economies.”
The Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan comprises a number of key elements, including:
• A Sustainable Mobility Plan/Strategy
• A Place Making and Public Realm Design Strategy
• A Tourism and Heritage Strategy
• Site Specific Interventions that will encourage an increase in commercial activity on the Main Street in Ballina and Killaloe. Public realm enhancement, traffic management, car-parking and pedestrian connectivity to the town centres from the residential, educational, community, public spaces and tourism facilities will be considered in this context.
The elements and proposals set out in the Killaloe-Ballina Town Enhancement and Mobility Plan have been incorporated into Draft Tipperary County Development Plan 2022-2028 and it is anticipated that this strategy will inform future funding applications and town enhancement projects that will enable Tipperary and Clare County Councils to work closely together to make an application for and secure funds to implement the plan under the various funding streams.