Clonakilty has been named the best town in the UK and Ireland.
The Great Town award is a competition run throughout the UK and Ireland and the announcement was made last week at the 2017 Urbanism Awards Ceremony, when Clonakilty beat off over 40 other towns.
The judges remarked on the quality of the design and maintenance of the ‘public realm’ – particularly the Main Street with its bespoke paving features and street seating, and also the reclaim and redesign of Emmett Square, which it said had been done to a very high standard.
The town’s rural bike rental scheme was also mentioned and its ‘town architect in the community’ model.
The assessment team of the Great Town Award noted: ‘The quality of the town centre and the town’s location close to the sea and beautiful beaches make it an attractive place to live, do business and visit. Clonakilty is a good example of those three elements coming together in a sustainable way that celebrates local distinctiveness, tradition, entrepreneurialism and a strong sense of local pride.’
The assessors also credited the town for being particularly welcoming and embracing new ideas and concept ‘wholeheartedly’.
Steven Bee, chair of the Academy said: ‘Clonakilty has a distinctive physical character derived from its setting and its Georgian and Victorian heritage. This was disturbed by traffic management in the mid-twentieth century, but is now being recovered, with significant social and economic benefits. The role of the town architect and town mayor in encouraging participation in the planning, and implementation of improvements have been key. Refreshed open spaces and improved links have restored the town’s character and pride, and stimulated tourism.’
The chief executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, said that he wished to congratulate the Cork County Council staff involved directly in the scheme design and delivery and the Clonakilty businesses, residents and community sector in working closely with the Council over the years in facilitating a successful outcome to the various projects in the town. ‘This is ample recognition for all for a job well done to an exceptionally high level of excellence in community and State partnership,’ he said.
The other winners were: Waterford’s Viking Triangle, which won The Great Place award; Copenhagen, which scooped the European City of the Year award; Ashley Vale, Bristol which won The Great Neighbourhood Award, and Wood Street in Walthamstow, London, which picked up The Great Street Award.
Cork South West TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony extended her congratulations to the people of Clonakilty on the win, this week.
‘Awarded by the Academy of Urbanism, this is a highly prestigious award, and pitted Clonakilty against some highly prominent towns such as Blackpool in England,’ she noted. ‘This is a fantastic achievement, and is testament to the strong community spirit in the town,’ she said.