The Central Access Scheme including a new bridge over the River Nore in Kilkenny city has been approved by An Bord Pleanála.
Kilkenny County Council, which planned the route, says it will open up and connect the city’s major development sites at the old mart and St Francis Abbey Brewery, which is due to be vacated by Diageo in the coming years. It also says it will help to relieve the pressure on Green’s Bridge and allow for greater access for buses, cyclists and pedestrians.
Opponents say it will bring further congestion to the city and detract from its medieval character.
The approved plans include “construction of a bridge crossing over the River Nore, a new central access street and a new distributor roadway in the western environs of the city. The bridge together with the new street and distributor roadway will form a new central access in the city linking residential areas to the west of the city to the core central business district and provide increased connectivity to urban areas to the east of the River Nore.”
The street of approximately 700 metres will extend from St Canice’s Place to the Castlecomer Road.
On the new bridge, “the street will accommodate two lanes 3.5 metres wide for traffic in either direction and two parallel cycle lanes 1.5 metres wide at road level. Footways will be provided on both sides of the street. In general, these footways will be two metres wide and will be raised behind the roadside kerbs. ... The bridge will also support a further widened observation platform above the river bank on the southeast side of the crossing.”
In approving the plans for the new road, the board found that it would “meet a need to supplement the existing cross-river routes in the city and significantly improve interconnectivity within the city, improve the safety and convenience of road users, be acceptable in terms of its impact on the environment, be acceptable in terms of its impact on the heritage of Kilkenny, both archaeological and architectural, would not adversely affect the integrity of any Natura 2000 site and would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
It reiterates that the originally planned Phase 2 and 3 of the road through the western environs and Loughmacask Road are not permitted to be constructed at this time. It ruled that those phases “would be premature pending progress on that part of the Kilkenny outer ring road between the Castlecomer Road and the Freshford Road (including a new river Nore crossing) which would alleviate traffic pressure on the city centre, especially from heavy goods vehicles.”