23 May 2022

Outdoor performance and dining spaces to be funded in Kilkenny


High Street in Kilkenny

Outdoor spaces in Kilkenny are set to be ‘reimagined’ thanks to a range of funding and development options being backed by government funding.

An outdoor performance space at Kilkenny’s Watergate Theatre is one of the exciting ideas that has been proposed. There will also be support for individual businesses to take advantage of outdoor space for seating.

The new Watergate stage could be constructed in the outdoor space to the side of the city theatre.
Giving a presentation on the new opportunities for outdoor spaces in Kilkenny, director of services Tim Butler told the recent meeting of Kilkenny County Council that there are a number of funding streams being made available to urban areas in the coming months.

Along with funding from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media aimed at reimagining out outdoor spaces, there will also be funding from Fáilte Ireland to install outdoor street dining furniture and an ‘urban animation’ scheme.
Re-imagining our outdoor space will include creating outdoor performance spaces with permanent or fixed weather coverings, stages, projections, lightning, permanent seating or benches and tables in a viewing area.

Street Furniture
Funding of about €250,000 nationally is available under the Dining ‘Street Furniture’ scheme. This is proposed to directly support individual business in squares, green areas and other open spaces. It will be linked to Section 254 licences for the use of public spaces and is expected to also be available for private spaces, subject to planning.

Outdoor Dining
A separate fund of €250,000 is available for each local authority to upgrade and enhance shared outdoor dining infrastructure. Under this scheme each project must have a lifespan of at least five years and must facilitate year-round, outdoor dining for a cluster of businesses in the urban area. This fund will support infrastructural and remedial works needed to allow this outdoor dining.

Urban Animation Scheme
Councillors were told the exact details of this scheme have not yet been published, but Mr Butler said this is likely to include smaller projects to make outdoor spaces more attractive. For example using lighting to link visitors to areas of interest, murals and outdoor exhibition spaces.
Along with these schemes are already up-and-running Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF) projects, Active Travel grants, the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) and Kilkenny Leader Partnership funded projects. Under RRDF, for example, the Callan Moat Field walking path has been funded, in Thomastown work on the quay and Logan Street has been funded and there has been funding in Piltown.

A project to construct a new pedestrian bridge in Castlecomer is also underway.
Cathaoirleach Andrew McGuinness said the proposed outdoor performance space at the Watergate Theatre was one of the most exciting things in the plan, and it would be fantastic if there can be an extension to the great work the theatre does.

Cllr Eugene McGuinness said outdoor seating will work on wide paths, but what about businesses that don’t have footpaths?
Mr Butler said the council is anxious to do what they can for businesses and the scheme will allow the use of back yards, in places like John Street, where roadside paths are too narrow for outdoor seating on the roadside and they don’t want to take space from a taxi rank.
Cllr Deirdre Cullen pointed out that Bennettsbridge is on cycling and walking routes but has no outdoor seating and people end up sitting on the car-park wall. “Really and truly there needs to be somewhere for visitors to sit.”

Cllr Michael Delaney said villages also need investment. The ‘Kilmanaghs, Tullaroans and Urlingfords’ where walkers and cyclists stop for coffee “but we have nowhere for them.”
Mr Butler said businesses in those areas can be facilitated under the schemes.
He added that funding had been allocated to Castlecomer for outdoor seating but agreement could not be reached on where they should be situated. There has been quite a bit of investment in towns and villages, he said, adding they could look at providing bicycle racks.

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