Skibbereen chosen for major project

May 6th, 2024 6:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Share this article

THIS week was a big week for the town of Skibbereen, as plans for one of the biggest development projects ever to be undertaken in the town were revealed.

Cork County Council officially launched its Town Centre First (TCF) Regeneration Plan for the town – the first to be published in the county.
Describing it as ‘ambitious but pragmatic’, the report’s 82 pages represent the culmination of significant public consultation by Cork County Council as part of the national TCF policy initiative.

At the launch Cllr Joe Carroll, chair of the West Cork Municipal District, and deputising for the county mayor, said that the plan was built on information gleaned from extensive public consultation and surveys. ‘This plan for Skibbereen strikes a balance between what is bravely ambitious and realistically achievable,’ he said.

The public consultation and plan development process com- menced in July 2023 and a total of 930 submissions were re- ceived from the community. Then a team of eight community reps was put together to form a focus group with which the consultants and Cork County Council worked to shape the plan.

The final plan, as published this week, has 36 specific objectives, projects, and principles to shape the future of one of West Cork’s best-loved towns.

With a population of just under 3,000, the town may have been chosen because of its accessible size, but there is no doubt that ‘ambitious’ best describes what the Council is hoping to achieve.

There are plans to finally get pedestrian access from the N71 to the town centre, via a bridge near the Marsh Road end of town. And there is even talk of a second pedestrian bridge, spanning the Ilen, near the town’s library.

There is also a major project to revamp the Rock area of the town into an amenity park with terraces, lookout point and seating, at a site overlooking the whole town.

The Council also wants to attempt to achieve something that Cork City Council has failed to achieve – to embrace the river. For years, criticism of Cork’s city centre ‘turning its back’ on the Lee has not led to any great embracing of the significant artery running through its core. Skibbereen could be said to have a similar aspect, with North Street and even Ilen Street tending to ignore the incredibly majestic asset on their doorsteps – the river.

Even attempts to highlight its blueway status in recent years came to very little. Now Cork County Council wants to see cafés, restaurants and walkways facing the large girth of water which flows out to the sea at Baltimore. Perhaps it took the success of Skibbereen Rowing Club, on its shores, to show the true value of this great resource. But whatever the reason, its value has finally been realised and there are now plans, we are told, to make it a major pinnacle of the town’s tourism offering, in years to come.

The report says it could take up to 2040 for the items on the ‘long term’ list to be finished, while items on the ‘short to medium’ term list, which includes a large number of projects, are hoped to be completed between now and 2028.

Worryingly, though, there are no costings for the project, other than reference to various government regeneration schemes and a comment this week from a team member that the Council is confident that initial funding is on the way to complete the public realm work in the town centre that was begun during lockdown.

Local residents will be hoping that this massive facelift for the town is not just a pre-election grandstanding exercise, and will, indeed, come to fruition, in the not-too-distant future.

Share this article