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Liberty Square Upgrade Will NOT Be Fully Completed Under Current Phase.

Reliable sources close to Thurles.Info have confirmed that the west side of Liberty Square, Thurles, will not now be completed as part of the current promised upgrade, latter which it was hoped would be completed by early 2022.

Part of the south side (Money Side) of Liberty Square is almost fully completed, with the exception of work for which the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) is mainly responsible. This includes the removal of the old, shabby ESB lamp standards etc, on which the ESB are currently working. No further works will be undertaken, travelling west, to the entrance to Slievenamon Road and finishing outside Executive Men’s Wear.

On the north side (Sunny Side) of Liberty Square, work will cease at the corner of the junction with O’Donovan Rossa Street, ( previously Pudding Lane, and Jail Street), beside AIB Bank. No lighting standards, to date, has been introduced on the North Side, with the more recent modern and attractive lamp standards introduced, removed to ‘God knows where’.

The east side of Liberty Square, running perpendicular to Barry’s Bridge and the Butler Castle; like the remainder of the overall town centre area, same over one year on, still awaits final finishes.

We are informed that work on the west side of Liberty Square, including the exit unto Westgate/ Friar Street has yet to go to tender. We also learn that Slievenamon Road is to be further street-scaped and is to be narrowed to vehicle traffic, under plans which have, as far as we are aware, not been revealed to local residents.

Tipperary County Council’s Mission Statement:

Our Vision: “To lead and deliver on sustaining, promoting and improving the social, community, cultural and economic well being of all citizens in the county of Tipperary, through a positive proactive partnership approach to service delivery.”

With parking now greatly reduced on Liberty Square, major questions are being asked by the public; latter who claim that the Liberty Square project to date, includes none of their personal recommendations, which had been requested in a survey carried out and discussed by principal British landscape architects LUC, (landuse.co.uk).

This project, to update Liberty Square, [not including the demolition of J. Griffins newsagent shop; latter which began in February, 2020] and which began in mid-August 2020, has taken to date 13 months, with work continuing non-stop during the Covid-19 pandemic. As viewers can see from the video shown above, confusion still remains (last pictures in the above slide-show taken on Tuesday last September 14th) and will continue to do so for at least another 3 months.

Two junctions; (A) Slievenamon Road / Liberty Square, Thurles and (B) Slievenamon Road / Clongower Road, Thurles.
Pic G.Willoughby

Some of the questions being asked by residents and business people are as follows:-

(A) With no designated parking areas for invalided persons in the new south-sided car park, (exited via Checkpoint Charlie) and with invalid parking promised on Liberty Square; what space has been allocated for delivery trucks conveying daily goods for supermarkets, restaurants, public houses and the few other businesses, each with no alternative but to struggle on, in Liberty Square?

(B) Why has this information not been announced by local councillors through local press; through local radio and their social media outlets?

Junction at Slievenamon Road and Liberty Square, Thurles.
Pic. G.Willoughby.

(C) With Liberty Square further narrowed for heavy vehicle traffic which prohibits even the opening fully of a vehicle door and the now proposed narrowing of Slievenamon Road, how are Fire Brigade Units, Paramedics and Ambulances expected to go about their most urgent business?

(D) While we are aware that taxpayer funding remains available for to complete the next western phase of the Liberty Square project and the southern Slievenamon Road project, should the few remaining businesses not yet forced out of Liberty Square, be asked to put up with yet further traffic congestion for at least another 6 to 9 months, as engineers seated in back offices, dream-up other ways of how to spend hard earned taxpayers money?

(E) With 4 very mature trees removed from Liberty Square over the past 12 months; where are the new promised trees to be planted? In the initial plans many trees were to be planted.
Then in a more recent update we are informed only 6 trees are due to be installed, the variety to be sown was to be “subject to the street soil quality”. However, to date no street spaces appear to be allocated to trees, unless they are destined to replace ESB poles. So where will TDs and Councillors hang their photoshopped posters?

Any plans available for narrowing Slievenamon Road, will be interesting to observe, (See Pictures above) based on past experience, which saw several times a year, large trucks removing existing so called safety railings, not to mention, sadly, one fatal traffic accident in that immediate area, back in January 2014.

Finally, despite local protests, some of which became underhanded, using dirty tricks; we can fully and reasonably understand why An Post; seeing what was coming down the track on Liberty Square, regrettably beat a hasty retreat to the comfort of Thurles Shopping Centre.

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5 comments to Liberty Square Upgrade Will NOT Be Fully Completed Under Current Phase.

  • Catherine Fogarty

    Lot to unpack there George. The west section was never included in this project. There are now a number of tree pits visible in the square- one opposite Executive menswear and a couple outside Quigleys cafe.
    LUC were hired in late 2019 to devise a town renewal strategy – the Liberty Square contract had been signed at that stage.
    The council did give the Liberty Square project the go ahead – the delivery does not match the permission granted and key issues such as signage were overlooked. Yet again!
    The URS consultants involved in the square Design had noted that elements of soft engineering – via communication, engagement and collaboration were important for the project to be a success. These remain alien concepts to the powers that be.

  • George Willoughby

    Catherine, the point being made in the report is not whether the west end of Liberty Square was never included in this current project. What is being stated is that the impression given to local residents is that the whole immediate area would be upgraded in one phase.

    Every dog in the street is asking after 13 months of upheaval “When will Liberty Square be finished”.

    Note the difference between public money being spent (e.g. Liberty Square) and private money (e.g. New Lidl complex latter closed for months during the first virus pandemic), latter now fully completed.

    Because of the pandemic over the past 19 months not every person could go to view planning and little or no information was forthcoming through our current public representatives. We as lovers of the town centre watch as it moves steadily southward.

    From last week a cup of coffee, which must be consumed in one hour, here in Liberty Square; same is €1.60 more expensive than the new Lidl venue, all due to parking charges which has ruined local business.

    We watch as one project completed just 6 years ago (officially opened on April 27th 2016) by the Council, using taxpayers money, is once again to be ripped up (Source Car Park area) at a cost to the tax payer of €3 million. Not as we are asked to believe a gift by local politicians.

    We watch as massive funding is being hailed for Bakers Street for the outdoor hospitality sector. We in the real world live in the knowledge that the sun never gets to a height where it actually shines in that area. While beautifully designed in the past, few if any businesses have succeeded in this area and again the reason comes down to parking charges by Tipperary Co. Council, in Parnell car park; the charges supported by local municipal district councillors.

    I am glad to hear that 3 wells have been provided for trees, these were believed by locals to be for more motorway signage or the ever elusive litter bin, (with only two new bins provided overflowing this morning allocated so far on the ‘money side’).

    Its interesting to note that the council has, using taxpayers money, built a restaurant, a pub and a theatre in Thurles to compete against existing businesses, (The Source) none of which are run profitable, demanding constant government financial supports.

    Still with Penny’s heading our way, what’s the hassle. God help us.

  • catherine fogarty

    George I don’t know where people would get that impression.
    The two projects (LIDL and the Square) are very different – and I don’t think any fair comparisons can be made.
    Yes communication has been awful – pandemic did not really prevent people from seeing the plans because the council have not put them on display despite being asked several times. In the council office you can see drawings from 2015/2016, you can see artists impressions and you can see what went out the tender. Not the final agreed contracted works. The council has performed badly on this matter – the part 8 planning process was a shambles – completed 3 times, those making submissions did not get the CE Report and council decision as they should. THE CE report merely lists the issues people raised in their submissions and not how the development addressed that concern.
    As I have said above the development being delivered is not in line with the permission granted. As you may have seen the Office of the Planning Regulator had a few recommendations about the planning authority in Tipperary. One of which was how much attention was paid to delivering a part 8 as it was approved. https://www.opr.ie/planning-regulator-publishes-first-local-authority-planning-performance-review/ Tipperary was the first one reviewed.

  • George Willoughby

    Catherine, Your comment “The two projects (LIDL and the Square) are very different – and I don’t think any fair comparisons can be made.” .

    Facts: The demolition of Griffins shop, a 6 roomed building, ( https://www.thurles.info/2018/05/21/thurles-car-park-development-making-progress/ ), necessary to the commencing the upgrade of Liberty Square; was begun on May 21st 2018 with the erection of shop front hoarding. Work on Liberty Square eventually began on August 17th 2020, 2 years and 3 months later. The vast majority of the work on the new carpark itself, less its resurfacing, had already been completed by April 2018. Overall carpark & Liberty Square upgrade projected to cost €12million.

    On March 21st 2020, Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG, latter the German global discount Supermarket Chain, based in Neckarsulm, Germany; through their architects Clarman, announced they had acquired full Planning Permission, in a joint partnership between Wesley Quirke of Baycross Developments Ltd., and Castletown Capital Ltd. This project it was announced was expected to take 2 years to fully complete. Here, beginning on June 27th 2020, an acre of multi-story factory buildings, roofed in Asbestos had to be demolished; a new complex had to be built on the site which was then halted by a Covid pandemic. The project was fully completed, including all underground/roadway cabling, at a reported cost of €10 million and officially opened on July 15th 2021. Despite major road works the history of which is, to say the least, an embarrassment to further discuss. Time frame for LIDL 1 year and 1 month..

    I think my comment, though somewhat different remains a very “fair comparison”, as we await the conclusion of the Liberty Square upgrade sometime hopefully in 2022 possibly, some 4 years later.

  • catherine fogarty

    George we will have to agree to disagree on this matter.
    The site at Clongour was a classic building site. The project in the Square is undertaken while accommodating residents, businesses and traffic. Power, sewage, telecoms etc have to a great extent been managed to deliver continuous supply while the Square works were undertaken.
    Respectfully there was no complex built in Clongour – the proposed building that Castletown Capital were to deliver has not been much in the headlines since it was announced, the Driv Thru did not even have an operator as late as last year’s planning application. Much less delivered than promised. I did object to the Driv Thru – partly because it sought access to the lands to the south of the former Erin Food’s site – this would be at the expense of part of the linear woodland and the tranquil walking route it provides – the riverside hedgerow was demolished without a second thought. The much promoted Thurles Inner Relief Road has not progressed much since the council got it’s planning permission for same in 2015. Yes the road works in Clongour are an embarrassing saga – the design is very perplexing and the Council seem to have abandoned plans to address safety concerns caused by the layout they approved/developer delivered. Huge sums spent by the council(aka taxpayer) in 2018 and again in this project and yet not a great outcome.

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