A delegation representing a majority of retailers in one of the country’s most westerly towns yesterday outlined fears over plans for a major streetscape revamp which could put many of them out of business.
Members of the Concerned Business Association in Castletownbere said Cork County Council and consultants should ensure that a bypass was built in the Beara peninsula town before proceeding with plans to ease traffic flow.
The association’s spokesman, Finbarr Harrington, told the West Cork Municipal District Council that businesses vehemently opposed certain aspects of a traffic plan by consultants AECOM.
Public realm works, he said, planned for the port town’s square, would greatly reduce car parking, while other projects would also lead to the closure of a street and further reduce parking.
A major concern was traffic could not traverse from east to west in the town centre. Without a bypass being built in advance of such work, he said, it would be a “disaster for the town”.
We’re 100 miles from Cork city,” said Mr Harrington. “We have a whole peninsula which depends on the town and its wide range of businesses.
Independent councillor Danny Collins urged council officials to meet with Castletownbere representatives as soon as possible “to iron out concerns”. However, officials believed the plan would “contribute to make Castletownbere a safer, healthier, more attractive and pleasant town to live in, work in and visit”.
Mr Collins noted that 56% of submissions received by the council were opposed to the proposals.
“We have to put people’s minds at ease, especially the business people,” he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Christopher O’Sullivan said a lot of investment had helped to improve Clonakilty’s streetscapes and public realm areas but acknowledged there was a fundamental difference between the towns which had to be considered.
In Clonakilty, we had an existing bypass and, secondly, two large car parks that cater for the loss of parking in the main street,” said Mr O’Sullivan said.
As Sinn Féin councillor Paul Hayes outlined the delegation’s “very real concerns about the viability of their businesses”, Mr Harrington sought a commitment county councillors would vote down the plan when it was finalised — unless local fears had been addressed.
“As a gesture of goodwill, the council’s executive should meet them,” said Fine Gael councillor John O’Sullivan. Officials agreed to speak with the association’s representatives in due course.