Opposition to the proposed multi-million euro redevelopment of the streetscape in Strokestown has intensified over the past week, with a number of retailers and local residents voicing concerns over Roscommon County Council’s plans.
While there is some support for the Council’s planned redesign of two of Strokestown’s historic streets, a number of retailers and other individuals are strongly critical of the proposed new design of Church Street and Bawn Street. They argue that there will be a significant loss of parking spaces, that implementation of the plan would be greatly detrimental to local businesses, that the town’s proud heritage is not being preserved, and that some members of the public would be inconvenienced as a result of certain changes.
With the November 3rd deadline for submissions looming, a public meeting was held in the Percy French Hotel on Thursday last, 19th of October. Senator Eugene Murphy and some local county councillors (Boyle Municipal District) were in attendance.
At the meeting, blunt opposition to the plans was voiced by a number of speakers, with local politicians left in no doubt about the strength of public feeling on this issue.
As part of the Town Centres First initiative, Roscommon County Council is seeking Part 8 planning permission for the Strokestown Public Realm Enhancement Scheme. The scheme involves a redesign of the current streetscape in Church Street and Bawn Street.
Specifically, the Strokestown Public Realm Enhancement Scheme includes:
*Alteration to existing road carriageway widths & roundabout dimensions
*Provision of footpaths, along with shared pedestrian & cycle routes
*Provision of controlled & uncontrolled pedestrian crossing facilities
*Relocation of bus stops provision from Bridge Street to Church Street
*Alteration to existing parking provision to include the provision of disabled parking spaces
*Soft landscaping work to include provision of trees, shrubs & green space through the scheme
*Provision of street furniture throughout the scheme to include benches, seating, picnic tables, bollards, cycle stands, etc
*Provision of new road & wayfinding signage, road marking & public lighting
While Roscommon County Council has met with local people to discuss the plans – most recently in June of this year – locals now claim the local authority reneged on a commitment to further engage with members of the public in Strokestown.
Those opposed to the plan in its current guise say Strokestown’s unique cultural heritage is threatened by the proposed redesign. They also express deep concern over what they claim will be a drastic reduction in car parking spaces.
Concern has also been expressed that the planned new green spaces, seating and general landscaping would have to be maintained by Strokestown Tidy Towns Association/volunteers, as opposed to by the local authority.
Locals have expressed fears that the redesign, as currently planned, would lead to a significant decrease in footfall in the town, which they say would lead to the closure of many small businesses in Strokestown in the coming years.
They further assert that a reduction in parking spaces would be a huge inconvenience for people using local schools, the post office and other services, and that major events such as Strokestown Agricultural Show and the annual Easter Parade would also suffer.
At a pre-planning meeting in June of this year, Roscommon County Council assured residents and retailers that the Council would take on board issues raised, and also consider submissions received during the public consultation process.