KILKENNY: Something is brewing in the Marble City

Kilkenny City hasn’t been as badly affected by high-street vacancies as some other towns and cities but has seen a rise in the number of vacant commercial spaces, from 3.3% in early 2014 to 7.7% in the first quarter of this year.

A mix of indigenous shops and eating spots along with the historic layout of its core, with narrow alleyways, winding lanes, and attractive buildings — not to mention Kilkenny Castle a stone’s throw away at The Parade — all make the Marble City a popular spot for shoppers and tourists alike.

The urban area hasn’t been as badly hit by the “doughnut effect” — whereby large retail businesses migrate to the edge of town, leaving a half-empty centre — as many similar-sized towns across the country.

“The Borough Council, when it was here, didn’t allow large developments on the edge of town,” said Paschal Bergin of the Kilkenny Business Group. “They wanted to keep everything within High St and John St. The biggest development was at McDonagh Junction [shopping centre] beside the railway station.”

READ MORE: Seeds of recovery starting to flower on high streets.

KILKENNY: Something is brewing in the Marble City

Nevertheless the business community is keen to see more incentives to open shops in the city centre.

Martin Costelloe, a jeweller and president of the Chamber of Commerce, says Kilkenny has managed to keep much of its independent retail offering. He blames rents and rates for any other empty units.

The council and Fáilte Ireland are to be praised, he says, for developing the Medieval Mile in the city centre, and for keeping commercial projects in this area, even during the boom.

“We lost a lot of good businesses in the recession and a lot of those have been replaced by cafes, pound shops, and charity shops which are all fine in their place but when you get to a certain percentage of them, the street starts losing its appeal. We’re lucky in Kilkenny in that we haven’t got to that percentage yet.”

KILKENNY: Something is brewing in the Marble City

The development of a strategy for the former Smithwick’s brewery site, bought by the local authority for €2.1m from Diageo, should help.

“It’s in a prime location and what it’s perfect for is an expansion of the retail core,” said Mr Costelloe.

“If there is going to be an expansion of the retail space in Kilkenny, that’s where it should be.”

KILKENNY: Something is brewing in the Marble City

This could be accelerated with news that the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund has expressed an interest in becoming involved with the site’s development. “Kilkenny needs the brewery site to bring in more jobs,” said Mr Bergin. “The tourism thing is fantastic but a lot of the jobs are seasonal and can be low-paid. We need something else in the city.”

READ MORE: Million-plus visitors keep vacancy rates low in Killarney.

READ MORE: Battle to reinvigorate Limerick city centre ongoing.

READ MORE: Seeds of recovery starting to flower on high streets.

DISCOVER MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS

More on this topic

Noel Fielding feels like ‘Tom without Jerry’ as Sandi Toksvig quits Bake OffNoel Fielding feels like ‘Tom without Jerry’ as Sandi Toksvig quits Bake Off

Sandi Toksvig announces Bake Off departure after three seriesSandi Toksvig announces Bake Off departure after three series

Star Trek takes over Piccadilly Circus to promote new seriesStar Trek takes over Piccadilly Circus to promote new series

James Corden: I’ll be so happy when I don’t have to wear SpanxJames Corden: I’ll be so happy when I don’t have to wear Spanx


Lifestyle

The actor knows how to impress when it comes to high profile events.6 times Katie Holmes wowed on the red carpet

Glamour, fun and feathers all feature in this year’s hottest looks – but first and foremost, individual style rules.10 on-trend ways to transform your home in 2020

Abi Jackson shares the enduring appeal of Pooh Bear’s wisdom on Winnie-the-Pooh Day – author A.A. Milne’s birthday.Winnie-the-Pooh Day: The wellbeing lessons we can learn from Pooh Bear

We asked three experts for the low-down on shampooing frequency.How often should you really wash your hair?

More From The Irish Examiner