On what was a glorious summer’s evening on Wednesday last in Roscrea there was standing room only in Exhibition Centre of the Damer House for the official launch of the Roscrea Town Enhancement Plan.
Members of the steering committee for the new RoscreaTown Enhancement Plan which was launched recently at Damer House Roscrea withthe aim of revitalising the streets of Roscrea.
JohnGuifloyle (President, Roscrea Chamber Of Commerce), Cllr Pauline Coonan, Michelle O’Dea (OPW), Brian King (Chairman), Marion Carey (Heritage Officer North Tipperary Co. Co., Alison Harvery (Planning and Development Officer with the Heritage Council Of Ireland), Mary Brennan (Planning Assistant With North Tipperary Co. Co.) & Eileen Doherty
(Roscrea Tidy Towns)
The evening focused around a workshop for local community groups, clubs and organsiations. The objective of the workshop was to inform all these groups in addition to other stakeholders in Roscrea such as OPW, Irish Rail, Shannon Development, North Tipp County Council, Leader and the Enterprise Board of the work that the “Roscrea Enhancement Group” has done to date and the great work that the group is proposing to do over the coming weeks and months..
Chairman of the group is the Interim Manager of the local credit union and Secretary of Roscrea Chamber Of Commerce, Brian King. Brian said he was heartened by such a large attendance which on such a beautiful evening demonstrated in itself the desire for change and the desire for Roscrea to finally begin to realise it’s full potential. Brian then introduced the great panel of speakers that were in attendance for the workshop. The speakers included Marion Carey Heritage Officer with North Tipperary County Council, Mary Brennan, Planning Assistant with North Tipperary County Council and Alison Harvey, Planning and Development Officer with the Heritage Council Of Ireland.
Brian King told all the representatives in attendance to enjoy the evening. He said that the evening was about far more than just launching the town enhancement plan. He said the workshop was much more important than that. He said that the evening was all about getting feedback from the people of Roscrea, the people that represent the many wonderful clubs and organisations that form the fabric of our town. He said that the difference between this plan and all the other plans that the people of Roscrea have been exposed to over the last decade or more, is that “this is our plan”. The Chairman said that the Roscrea Town Enhancement Plan will be owned by the people of Roscrea, it will be driven by the people of Roscrea and it’s success or failure will ultimately depend upon the people of Roscrea. The Chairman said he would not have got involved in another plan that became just that “a plan” which cruelly raised the expectations of a town only to dash them later on because no funding was available to make the plan a reality. In this regard he praised Marion Carey who will help put in place a person to deliver the plan once it is formulated and he praised the great work of North Tipperary Leader whom the steering group will be turning to in order to seek funding to help deliver on the various elements of the plan, once in place.
Brian concluded by saying that despite the economy, the cutbacks and all the doom and gloom, this was a wonderful opportunity for the people of the town to come together and put in place a plan that will revitalise Roscrea, bring vitality back to our streets and hopefully usher in the dawn of a new era of prosperity for our town.
The second speaker on the evening was Marion Carey, Heritage Officer with North Tipperary County Council. Marion said that the intent shared by all members of the Roscrea Enhancement group is to reach achievable goals aimed at improving Roscrea Town Centre as a place to live in and visit. Marion told those in attendance that throughout the evening the committee would share ideas and look for new ideas in the hope that the “Town Enhancement Plan Group” and members of the community will ultimately function as one team with a common goal.
Members of the steering committee and supporters for the new Roscrea Town Enhancement Plan which was launched recently at DamerHouse Roscrea with the aim of revitalising the streets of Roscrea.
Marion concluded by saying that Roscrea’s unique selling point is its people and the strength of the community they have established. Marion said that it was hoped that by bringing together all the community groups at work in Roscrea, a unity of shared ideas and ambitions will result in successfully planning for a sustainable future in Roscrea.
The Heritage Council Of Ireland, has chosen Roscrea, among only a handful of Irish towns to put in place a public realm plan or what we call the “Roscrea Town Enhancement Plan”. Alison Harvey, Planning and Development Officer with the Heritage Council gave a definition on Wednesday evening last of the increasingly-popular term as ''Public Realm refers to publicly-owned streets, sidewalks, rights-of-ways, parks and other publicly accessible open spaces, and public and civic buildings and facilities''.
Alison Harvey's presentation invited the audience to consider how in business and even in general community-morale terms, a Town-Centre's sense-of-place and its capacity to 'market' itself (to itself and to visitors), is boosted by its 'USP', its Unique Selling Point, i.e. the characteristic which make it different. This is especially so when the differences relate to an attractive built environment based on history, heritage and tradition. Roscrea Town Centre is rich in this regard. Roscrea has a magnificent Castle Complex, and Round Tower which have yet to be maximised to their full potential. The historic town centre is characterised by owner-occupied and owner-managed small-scale shops many of which have traditional wooden shop fronts. Rosemary Square in particular is beautiful and throughout the town it is clearly evident that Roscrea has a very active tidy towns committee. Alison outlined the importance of Town Centre Management Strategies and described what makes a town centre vibrant and successful. Her presentation was certainly well received and helped provoke a lot conversation which was rich with ideas for improvements.
As part of the preparation work for the plan which will be drafted between now and October, the steering committee recently conducted a Town centre health check. The health check consisted of a number of presentations which were delivered by Mary Brennan, Planning Assistant with North Tipperary County Council. Mary outlined the objectives of the Town Centre Health Check and explained the methodologies used to gather the data. Mary then presented the findings of the following surveys, Land Use Survey and Vacancy Rate, Footfall Survey, Shopper Survey, Retailer Survey and Supermarket Survey. Some of the results were quiet staggering such as the lack of footfall in the area of the Castle Complex which should be attracting far more visitors to the town.
When all the presentations were completed Brian king thanked the presenters and commenced looking for feedback from the audience. He asked John Jones Town Engineer to give an update on Council issues and the workshop was certainly very encouraged with John’s proposed work plan for Roscrea over the coming months. The town engineer confirmed that the Chamber of Commerce proposal to put a roundabout and feature at Market Square would be supported by the Council. The engineer also spoke about signage and the issues of encouraging more people to come of the motorway to visit Roscrea. Other ideas such as cycle paths, opening up new pedestrian areas in the town etc were all discussed and the audience was certainly very heartened by John’s enthusiasm. Brian King thanked John and said that the Chamber Of Commerce in particular had built up a very good relationship with John who was always open to ideas and suggestions.
The ideas flowed for the rest of the evening. Representatives from the majority of the towns clubs and organsiations were invited to give their opinion which they did. Making more use of Damer House was discussed and it was heartening to have Michele O’ Dea, from the O.P.W. in attendance. Michele outlined that community use of Damer House was encouraged and simply required an application to be made to the OPW in this regard. Michelle also discussed the new OPW initiative to involve the community as keyholders and guides at OPW sites.
The development of a bicycle trail and a farmers market in the town was discussed. Advertising events at focal points in the town was discussed. Proper signage featured strongly as did getting a final solution to the town’s derelict buildings. Developing school tour packages for Roscrea was mentioned and getting the tourist providers more involved in attracting visitors to the town was discussed. The Chairman paid particular compliments to the members of Roscrea Tidy Towns that were part of the audience. Eileen Doherty outlined the future plans of the Tidy Towns Committee which are ambitious and certainly very achievable as long as the business community in particular realise the importance of the group and help them in any way possible.
After a very productive evening Brian King thanked everyone once again for attending and for their thoughts and ideas. He thanked the OPW for hosting such an important occasion for the town and said that it was refreshing to see that the OPW through people like Michele O’Dea are fully committed to helping us ensure “that the Castle Complex, the jewel in the crown that we have in Roscrea” is very much a part of the overall plan to bring more visitors to the town. Brain King thanked Alison Harvey for her commitment to the plan and for her enthusiasm to see a plan put in place as soon as possible. Brian then thanked Mary Brennan who had to deliver a very difficult presentation and finally he thanked Marion Carey whose commitment to see this plan come to fruition was unparalleled. He said that Marion had developed a great rapport with the local clubs and organsiation in a very short space of time which was a great testament to her character and her desire to see Roscrea doing well. The Chairman concluded by thanking all the Councilors for their continuous support and he thanked Jo McGrath, County Manager, in particular for his tremendous support of many Roscrea initiatives and particularly the Roscrea Town Enhancement Plan initiative.
Over the coming weeks the steering committee will be putting in place the mechanisms necessary to have the overall plan drafted. In the interim the group are trying to orgainse a number of events that will be hosted in Roscrea during Heritage Week which takes place towards the end of August. If you would like to get involved in helping to organsie these events or if you have any ideas or suggestions please feel free to contact Marion Carey at firstname.lastname@example.org or Brian King at email@example.com.