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Rejuvenating Thurles Town Centre

Liberty Square, Thurles.

Liberty Square, Thurles.

Officials inform us that residents and businesses will soon get their final say on the long awaited and planned €3 million revamp of Liberty Square here in Thurles, Co Tipperary.

The already unveiled basic blueprint planned for Liberty Square, was viewed by ‘all and sundry’ last summer, while inviting suggestions from the resident public.  Now local officials confirm these plans and all submitted suggestions are ready for final viewing in the weeks ahead, thus allowing for further final discussions.

This planned project to-date involves the removal of car parking facilities, presently restricted to the central median, in favour of off-street car parking behind the south side of the town’s business premises. Some limited, on-street parallel parking will continue, however wider footpaths are en-envisaged, together with 3 courtesy pedestrian crossing.

Tipperary Co. Council have also this month launched a new initiative aimed at rejuvenating businesses in the centre area of Thurles. (This new initiative will also include 8 other towns in the county, e.g. Templemore, Nenagh, Roscrea, Tipperary Town, Cashel, Cahir Carrick-an-Suir and Clonmel.) This newest initiative involves commissioning a ‘Retail Expert’ to work with each town’s stakeholders in the hope of preparing a viable future vision for Co.Tipperary’s main town centres. The council is making €500,000 (county-wide) available for this initiative with the hope of securing additional funding from other external sources.

For Thurles presently this new plan arrives “after the horse has bolted,” coming into being against the difficult backdrop of already trading multiple discounters like Aldi, Lidl and Dunnes Stores, latter who control the entrance to the three main arterial corridors into Thurles.

The arrival of these latter multiple discounters was inevitable and indeed in most cases welcome, especially to those households in receipt of low incomes. However while offering discount pricing, they also offer ‘Free Parking’ to all customers, an option not readily available to shoppers choosing to frequent shops in the Thurles town centre. Other previously established free to use car parking areas like Thurles Railway Station, Hayes Hotel, Costcutters etc., which heretofore provided free car parking space for customers, found themselves also introducing car park charges, latter forced on them to halt non customer parking, latter to avoid paying the local authority enforced charges.

So what solutions will our ‘Retail Expert’ find in relation to these town centre areas and will his €500,000 findings be left to gather dust on some Tipperary Co Council book shelf?

The local press headlines, both radio and newspaper, in the last number of weeks, when reporting this latest proposal, failed to dig deep for any solution to increased footfall and generally stated: “Details of this new initiative were outlined at this week’s meeting of Tipperary Co Council, at which the plan was generally welcomed. However, Councillors argued that commercial rates and parking changes would remain key issues, while others complained that the plan would make no difference to the county’s smaller towns.” 

What is really being stated in these media reports is that little imagination is being displayed by either the public or officialdom. No possible solutions are being discussed and we are exhibiting the usual apathy when presented with a very, very serious county-wide problem. This latter, which if not corrected soon, will have a most injurious effect on all the town’s of Co. Tipperary, with regard to town centre trading areas and their adjoining streets.

victorian-awning1Question: Free parking set aside, what is the difference between a multiple discount shopping centre area and Liberty Square, Thurles?
Answer: Only one difference – a multiple discount shopping centre area has one roof, while Liberty Square is open to the discomfort of our ever changing Irish weather conditions.

Offer appeasement and comfort to our now increasingly absent footfall in Tipperary town centres.

No I am not suggesting we erect a roof over Liberty Square and surrounding streets. What I am suggesting however is that under these new plans to upgrade Liberty Square; Awnings, Canopies, call them what you will, should be included in any future agreed plans.

No, I am not suggesting pieces of canvas strung between four aluminium poles, to be retracted at the first sign of a strong wind. I am suggesting something permanent, yet decorative, like glass roofed Victorian cast iron awnings, fronting all of our shops as demonstrated in the picture shown above, left.  Now Liberty Square, using its envisaged wider footpaths, can become a competing multiple discount shopping centre, displaying all its individual shop units, thus offering competition in some way to the present shopping centre style model.

Have you our readers got any ideas?  What is your vision for Liberty Square, into the future?.

Please add comment on your vision of Liberty Square into the future by clicking HERE and join in the debate.

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13 comments to Rejuvenating Thurles Town Centre

  • John

    How about taking the opportunity to put all of the ESB/Phone lines/overhead cables on Liberty Square underground?

  • George Willoughby

    Excellent idea and an ideal opportunity, since they will be ripping up existing road & footpath surfaces.

  • Kathy

    I agree, Thurles town centre needs updating with pedestrian access and off street car parks. Not sure about awnings. Disabled access to all shops. I don’t see why Clonmel should be included in the funding, as a lot of money has been spent on this large town over the years. Something should be done about the graffiti in Thurles by the Council, without exception. I have complained about this previously and ignoring it is not the answer.

  • George Willoughby

    Yes unsightly graffiti certainly has become a problem which has gone somewhat unanswered in many cases e.g. Stradavoher / Butler Avenue Junction. So too disabled access to some shops and pavements; latter for those using electric vehicles often now obliged to use the main thoroughfares.

  • Jim

    No harm to have the courtesy pedestrian crossings installed. The present system is strangling the town.

  • Chris

    I’d like to see both of those supermarkets (Tesco and McKevitts), An Post and AIB relocate out of the town centre. These 4 businesses are the cause of most of the congestion especially the supermarkets. The square has turned into a car park in recent years. The number of parking spaces should be reduced. There’s really no excuse for An Post and Tesco to stay in the square.

  • Jim

    Aw Chris, come on, that would kill The Square altogether. (Of course, this is your idea of an April Fool’s joke.) Right…?

  • John

    It would be nice to see the bookies shops located out of the Square. They add nothing to the place.

  • Pat

    I agreee with John on the ‘bookie’ shops. Unfortunately under the planning laws a former Bank can be replaced by these ‘bookie’ shops hence we have two already in the Square and if rumour is right we could have another one shortly.

  • Chris

    @jim What I see from my window everyday the majority of people who shop at both supermarkets in the square just do their weekly shops and wheel their trolleys over and load their groceries into the boot of the car and drive off. Same with people using the ATM’s/Post office they just jump back in the car and leave. They don’t go to other shops in the square and who can blame them with the amount of cars passing by and the condition of the footpaths. With the supermarkets gone from the square there wouldn’t be as many cars parking and the council would have some space to extend the footpaths and make the square more pedestrian friendly. Instead of banks, supermarkets and bookies to have small retailers. Also that Tesco store is a disgrace. Inside its old and dated and it closes too early and the back is an eye sore. That’s one ugly 1970s extension on the back. It looks more like a factory. Imagine how beautiful the view of the castle. bridge and surrounds would be looking over from the new park without that ugly store in the way. With less cars in the square we’d have enough room to hold festivals like Fleadh Cheoil (50 years since it was last last held here)

    I like George’s idea of putting canopies outside the buildings. Council has the power to stop solicitor offices/bookies opening why won’t they?

  • Jim

    I agree Chris, but Tesco tried to move out of town some time ago, and were stopped by the infamous RED TAPE, or some form of bungling by the ”grey people”. It’s normally called refusal of planning permission by the authorities. So, where does that leave us? Also, when the Suir bridge was being widened, i.e., walls removed and footpaths put in, back in the late sixties, the big problem that the then Council had, was where to put the new bridge over the river Suir. Was it to go up-river near the then Thurles creamery, or was it to go down-river, somewhere near Casey’s yard? Not much traffic about then in the sixties and a bridge was considered, and now forty five years on and the town choked with traffic, and the wise ones decide to revamp the Square to alleviate the situation? One wonders…….

  • Chris

    http://193.178.30.218/tipperaryeplan/FileRefDetails.aspx?file_number=15600341&LASiteID=0

    Drive thru service area in Nenagh. Aldi have plans to extend the shopping centre in Roscrea. Thurles and Templemore are the only towns in the county of Tipperary with no growth at all and are slowly dying. Roscrea, Tipperary, Carrick will all be larger than Thurles in the 4-6 years. Same thing happened in 2006 with Nenagh overtaking Thurles as the largest town in North Tipperary. The number of TN reg cars I see in Clonmel everyday is unbelievable. Leakage is only getting worse and if rumors going around are true and given the tough market conditions Tesco are going through at the moment the Thurles Store (because of the age of the store and difficulty to trade in location) may be one of the first to close.

  • Chris

    To add Roscrea, Nenagh and Clonmel will all have 1gb FTTH broadband by next year. Thurles will be stuck with FTTC 100mb (10%) Roscrea will be soon be connected to the natural gas network and a number of housing developments planned.

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