The man credited with developing Westport, Co Mayo, into one of Ireland’s top tourist spots has told a West Cork town that residents “must make Bandon a great place to live and everything else will follow”.
Bandon’s Tidy Towns committee and flood forum invited Mayo’s county architect, Simon Wall, to a public meeting earlier this week where he advised them to appoint a town architect to drive the redevelopment of the town.
Millions are to be spent on the town’s long-awaited flood relief, drainage, and sewage schemes in the next three years, and “now is the perfect opportunity” for the town to revamp itself, said Gillian Powell, founder of the Bandon Flood Forum.
The meeting took place on Tuesday, four years after the town suffered its worst flooding in 200 years, finding itself under more than 1.2m of water.
Mr Wall told the 130 people gathered that, if the revamp project is to work, it will need the backing of all the town. The Tidy Towns committee will also need to work with private landowners and businesses, as well as all those who will benefit from increased tourism and business spending, he said.
Mr Wall described how Westport developed its acclaimed green walks by developing a relationship with private landowners, and its cobblestone river walkways by working with Inland Fisheries Ireland West.
Mr Wall commended Bandon’s “building structure”, saying there were sections of the town that were of greater architectural significance than anything in Westport, but said Bandon’s traffic plan would need to be addressed.
It was decided at the meeting that any redevelopment of the town would be done under the umbrella of the Bandon Tidy Towns Committee, and that a public brainstorming session will be held shortly where residents will be asked about how they would like the town to be developed.
“Such an architect could hold clinics in the town so that he can offer advise on individual planning projects. There are plenty of plans here but many of them don’t have the necessary public buy-in. We must change that.”
Flood forum member Maria McLaughlin said: “Bandon has only ever been a cash cow for the county council, sending in rates, but we never saw any reinvestment.”
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