Kilkenny City carpark shelved over €25,000 legal challenge

Mary Cody

Reporter:

Mary Cody

Email:

mary.cody@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny City carpark shelved over  €25,000 legal challenge

The site of the proposed temporary carpark

Plans to develop a temporary carpark at the Brewery site in the heart of Kilkenny City have been shelved because of a legal challenge.
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.
It is understood that to date the local authority has incurred legal costs in the region of €25,000 in relation to the judicial review proceedings.
Peter Sweetman lodged the papers in the High Court in September and was given permission for a full judicial review to proceed.
“If seeking planning for the temporary carpark is going to be a lengthy and costly process we will need to reconsider the proposal from a value for money perspective as it is only a temporary use,” said Tim Butler, Director of Services with Kilkenny County Council.
“In considering the recent judicial review of the planning process for the temporary coach and car park, it was determined that the time and cost of defending this case in the High Court is not merited for a temporary development proposal,” he said.
“From experience on other High Court cases, it is expected that the case could take a number of years to resolve, involving significant legal costs – this is not warranted for a temporary development proposal for up to five years.”

Following an announcement by Kilkenny County Council that it was no longer going to proceed with the development of a temporary car and coach park on the brewery site, Green Party Councillor Malcolm Noonan has proposed that the local authority would focus its efforts on improving accessibility within the City using public transport, cycling and walking and actively reducing car dependency in the core area of the city.

"I was the only member of Kilkenny County Council to vote against the proposal to develop a temporary car park on the site. I did so as I felt it was wasteful, would add to traffic volumes around KCAS and would not benefit tourism in any meaningful way along the Medieval Mile’ said Cllr Noonan.

He said the decision not to challenge the high court injunction represented cost saving to the Local Authority; it was ill devised in the first place with no thought put in to traffic impact or impact on revenue to other car parks; some of which were under-occupied much of the time.

‘There are many car parking options both within the town centre and on the periphery of the city. With a bit of lateral thinking and forward planning we could be utilising these car parks on a temporary nature, for park and ride in conjunction with an expanded city bus service or at weekends when some office developments are not using their car parks’ he said.

He cited the example of James Green clinic car park which was empty every weekend, County Hall, a free car park at weekends but under used. ‘We all want to maximise the footfall on our city centre streets, help our local shops and increase visitor numbers to Rothe House, St Canice’s Cathedral and St Mary’s Museum. Another car park is not the answer and cities across Europe are doing the opposite; removing traffic, pedestrianising more streets and making town centres more pedestrian and cycle friendly. All evidence has shown that it is being done for economic reasons as well as environmental and we can innovate here in a town that is just the right size for walking and cycling’ he said.

‘The days of carving up town centres with roads and facilitating traffic growth instead of reducing it are over. We have plenty of car parking options; both short, medium and long term with potential for temporary or occasional use on other sites. An expanded city bus service, a town bike scheme will all add to the vibrancy of the city centre but we need collective ambition to ensure that the town centre remains a vital and vibrant civic space’ concluded Cllr Noonan.