The proposed site of the temporary car park and coach park
A judicial review is being taken by an environmental campaigner against Kilkenny County Council over their decision to develop a temporary carpark and coachpark on part of the former Brewery site.
In July Kilkenny County Council granted itself planning permission to develop a temporary carpark and coach park for seven coaches and 132 cars to be operated for a period of five years. However judicial review proceedings could cause a lengthy delay to the project. Peter Sweetman lodged the papers in the High Court in September and was given permission for a full judicial review to proceed.
Director of Services at Kilkenny County Council, Mary Mulholland said that the proposal for the temporary carpark is ‘in response to the demand to provide coach parking in the Irishtown area to support the tourist attractions on that end of the Medieval Mile’.
“The idea being that if buses could park at that end of the Medieval Mile it would increase numbers to Rothe House, Smithwicks Experience and St Canice’s Cathedral,” she said, adding that ‘more foot fall in Irishtown would help bring uses into vacant and underutilised buildings in that area’.
Ms Mulholland said it is ‘regrettable’ that the delay to the car park project has a couple of unintended consequences.
“Barnstorm Theatre Company needs a new home and the Council was working to provide them with a new base in the former Squash Court on the Abbey Quarter. The car park project needs to be delivered to provide safe access to that building. We had hoped that the move take place before the year end.
“In addition the Good Shepherd Centre is working on plans to provide much needed additional residential units within its complex, in the building to be vacated by Barnstorm. This is also on hold pending Barnstorm getting a new home,” she added.
While Mary Mulholland declined to comment on the Judicial Review she did express regret that ‘the knock on consequences will impact on two very worthy projects for the community, which it is hoped will proceed at a later date’.
Grounds for review
The application for the judicial review states that the local authority erred in law in failing to undertake properly an appropriate assessement on the conservation of natural habitats and or wild fauna and flora prior to making the decision of July 16 and also failed to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment. Another ground is that it also failed to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment into the effects of the car parking requirements in Kilkenny City.
Councillor Malcolm Noonan, the only elected member to vote against the temporary car park said that while he fully accepted ‘the democratic decision that was made’ by a majority of members in July to proceed with the temporary car park, he remains ‘deeply concerned that we are putting in all of this expensive infrastructure to facilitate a business as usual scenario for car travel in our city, while all over Europe, cities are doing the exact opposite’.
“KCAS and this car park are outdated; 1970’s road engineering projects and have no place in modern urban planning and will do little to shift our mobility from private cars to cycling, walking and public transport”, he said .
Chairman of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee, Cllr Andrew McGuinness said that he was deeply concerned about the implications.
“Plans were in place to provide a building on that site for Barnstorm Theatre Company, who currently occupy a premises at the Good Shepherd Centre. Once they vacated their premises at the Good Shepherd it could then be used to create much needed accommodation for homeless people.
“It is planned to use the Barnstorm building to create between six and nine units for emergency accommodation. This is something that I believe is of huge urgency but depends on the provision of an alternative building for Barnstorm.”