A REPORT into the uses of the Teahouse on Bateman Quay has recommended that it be used to as part of the Kilkenny tourism strategy as opposed to a toilet.
In November of last year the borough council had requested a report into the viability of using of the vacant teahouse as a toilet as there are currently no public toilets in the Market Yard. As part of the redevelopment of the court house the courts services were to provide a public toilet facility. While there are toilets in the new court house the public seem unwilling to use them.
The report presented to the council recommended against its use as a toilet for a number of reasons. The report states that due to constraints of the physical layout, the fact that the building does not have fresh or waste water services, and the significant architectural heritage of both of the tea house buildings it would be unsuitable to use them as toilets.
The Teahouse is a gothic style structure dating from 1800 it is listed on the Record of Protected Structures and the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Despite this it is located in lands zoned Recreation, Amenity and Open Space. This zoning allows for uses including a halting site, clubs, recreational buildings, stands, pavilions, agricultural uses, and pubic service installations.
The report recommended that the ideal end-use for the teahouse would be as a museum or gallery. The teahouse on its own would be too small to house a stand alone gallery and it was proposed that a gallery or museum could incorporate the second teahouse as well. This would be a large project and the council engineers felt that this would not be feasible in the short term due to the councils commitment to the Talbot Tower Project. In the short term it was suggested that the Teahouse could be used as a tourist kiosk. The location and space surrounding the Teahouse would make it suitable as a base for a bicycle rental scheme, walking tours or a tourist meeting point.
Councillor Paul Cuddihy (Fine Gael) said that he felt the tourist route was the way to go. He said "the tourist route should be the way to go. The building has its own charm over the last number of years we've done a huge amount of work so that unlike a number of other Irish towns and cities that have no turned their backs on the river we are now using our river more and the teahouse is an attractive feature. I think when the pedestrian bridge is built across to the Carnegie Library to the teahouse site that it will open up this area a lot more to tourists.
Councillor Sean O'hArgain lamented the lack of a public toilet facilities in the area and called for action against the anti-social behaviour particularly drinking that goes on in the vicinity. Cllr O'hArgain said "We need to stop the area being used for public drinking and other anti-social behaviour and for it to become an area that we can be proud of. I proposed the motion for a bike scheme at the November meeting and I think this venue would be an ideal venue for such a bike scheme."