Big companies already circling at brewery site

Three major companies have already expressed an interest in establishing themselves on the St Francis Abbey site, the county manager has said.

Three major companies have already expressed an interest in establishing themselves on the St Francis Abbey site, the county manager has said.

Joe Crockett made the announcement at a public meeting on Tuesday. Around 100 people turned out in City Hall to attend the special meeting on the future of Kilkenny’s brewery site.

Mayor Martin Brett chaired the meeting, which was attended by various local business owners, organisations and interested citizens. County manager Joe Crockett and the project’s masterplan architect Anthony Reddy both addressed the room, before the floor was opened for a question and answer session.

Mr Crockett revealed that the local authorities received three calls from ‘major companies’ interested in the site, following the newspaper publication of plans to set up an ‘Abbey Creative Quarter’ there. He said that was unprecedented.

The county manager has previously said that the site has the potential to foster 1,000 jobs and 1,000 third-level students within a few years if the right infrastructure is in place. There were some questions from the floor about where the money would come from to develop the site. Mr Crockett said it was hoped it would be a combination of investment from the Government and the private sector.

The issue of the Central Access Scheme also reared its head throughout the meeting – all designs and sketches of the site incorporate the new road and bridge. Mr Reddy said the CAS was outside of the architects’ remit, and they had worked with what An Bord Pleanala had approved.

Local man Liam Heffernan said that 6,500 people were against it, and told the elected members present it was never too late to change their mind.

It was the only major point of disagreement at the ‘town hall’-style meeting, which saw a lot of consensus and positive dialogue. Several elected representatives were present and welcomed the public’s input.

The county manager also said it would be a possibility for people to take part in site visits once the council had possession of the lands.

Mr Crocktt also stressed the importance of following up on the meeting’s issues with written submissions. Submissions or observations on the strategy for planning and development of the area may be made in writing to town clerk Brian Tyrrell on or before 5pm on Friday, December 13 this year. They can also be e-mailed to: ourplan@kilkennycoco.ie.