Road plan a major threat to historic city centre

AT a time when planning authorities elsewhere are trying to keep traffic out of city centres, Kilkenny’s application to An Bord Pleanála for permission to construct and inner relief road which will funnel heavy traffic through the ancient centre of the city is worryingly out of step with the rest of the world.

I regularly act as a guide to historic places in Ireland, and I know from first-hand experience that what most attracts many people to Ireland is the charm of its unspoilt landscapes.

As Ireland’s only near intact medieval city, Kilkenny is one of the major tourist attractions in the country. An inner relief road would increase noise and pollution in the city centre.

It would place a greater obstacle in the path of those wishing to walk from the castle in the south to the cathedral in the north than already exists as a result of the widening of Dean Street in 1980.

Moreover, the construction of a new cable-stay bridge across the Nore would seriously damage the setting of one of the gems of the city, the 18th-century Green Bridge.

There have been warnings recently that a new US presidency with a protectionist agenda may lead to the flight of big multinationals from Ireland.

Tourism is one industry that cannot go offshore.

Surely long-term financial considerations alone suggest that the centres of ancient cities like Kilkenny should be protected from heavy traffic?

The needs of drivers and commercial development could be just as well met by building a bridge to the north of the city centre and by completing the ring road to the north and west, with park-and-ride facilities giving access to the city centre.

I urge An Bord Pleanála to reject the present scheme which will do irreparable damage to the character of this historic city.

Dr Niamh Whitfield

Faroe Road

London W14 0EL

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