West Street in Drogheda is to close to all vehicular traffic for three weekends over the next three months, as Louth County Council move to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on retailers and the hospitality sector in the town centre.
The plans – for what will be a temporary pedestrianisation, essentially a trial run – have the potential to transform the town centre in the town, according to Mayor Kevin Callan.
The local authority plan that West Street will be closed to all vehicular traffic on the weekends of September 19-20, October 24-26 and a weekend in November. The October weekend will include the Bank Holiday Monday. The success of the trial periods will be measured and monitored by the council, in partnership with the Drogheda BIDS company.
The pedestrianised area will include West Street from the Duke Street and Stockwell Street junction to the Tholsel building. Traffic on the eastern end of West Street, Duke Street and Stockwell Street will flow as normal as will traffic on Peter Street and Shop Street.
Since May of this year, the local authority have been working closely with the Drogheda BIDS group and Drogheda Chamber of Commerce to work towards a partial pedestrianisation of West Street, in a bid to stimulate economic recovery by increasing footfall in the town centre.
The council, with support from local stakeholders, believe West Street can facilitate social distancing for pedestrians, cyclists, and for the holding of outdoor events. It is also envisaged that cafes, restaurants and pubs – serving food while wet pubs remain closed – will be able to use the space to utilise outdoor seating.
Among the features earmarked for coming to West Street as part of the pedestrianisation plan are ‘parklets’ to increase capacity for cafes and restaurants for outdoor dining, parasols for outdoor dining and artificial grass for an area at St Peters in West Street. These items are being provided via funding form the National Transport Authority as part of the traffic management plan being rolled out for scheme. An as yet unconfirmed quantity of these features will be in place for the pilot.
The BIDS company plans to run a weekend activation plan in September, which will include musical events, outdoor trading for the traditional shops and outdoor dining. Cllr Callan added: “While I wholeheartedly support this proposal, I would encourage anyone who has a view on it – whether it’s to back it or to raise a concern – to make their views known by making a submission to Louth County Council’s public consultation.”
As the plan is subject to the road closure approval process, Louth County Council is running a public consultation on the proposal and interested parties have until Tuesday August 25 to submit their views, in writing. Full details of the public consultation can be found on the Louth County Council website.
“While this is a temporary measure proposed to try to reduce the economic impact of COVID-19, it has the potential to transform the centre of Drogheda and how we use our outdoor areas,” Cllr Callan, Mayor of Drogheda, said. “It could have a really positive effect on the town’s future and, if it proves to be successful, it could be something that we look at as a long- term measure for the enjoyment of the people of Drogheda.”
The Drogheda BIDS company plans to run a weekend activation plan in September, which will include musical events, outdoor trading for the traditional shops and outdoor dining.
“While I wholeheartedly support this proposal, I would encourage anyone who has a view on it – whether it’s to back it or to raise a concern – to make their views known by making a submission to Louth County Council’s public consultation,” Cllr Callan added.
What is a parklet?
You may have heard a lot about parklets in recent weeks and months, but what are they?
Gardai in Drogheda as well as local bus operators have also been consulted about the move. Mayor Callan’s motion, tabled at last month’s July meeting of the Drogheda Borough Council, suggested pedestrianising the street from the junction of Stockwell Street and Duke Street to the Tholsel junction – a stretch of approximately 172m.
Councillors in the town unanimously backed the motion to follow the example of towns around the country and prioritise shoppers and diners over vehicles in the town centre. Speaking at that meeting, the Mayor said: “Around the country at the minute, in Cork, Malahide, Waterford, streets are being pedestrianised around Covid. It helps businesses, there’s more seating, there’s more room to move. On top of that, it’s having a positive effect on footfall in town centre areas.
In my view, and it might bias, that street is one of the best stretches of historical street [and it’s] in the very heart of the town, which is serviced by a number of car parks on all sides. For me, we have an opportunity here on West Street to move towards pedestrianisation. This is something we all do together.
A meeting between Drogheda Borough Councillors and the Drogheda BIDS team, headed by Trevor Connolly, will take place on Wednesday August 26 where the pedestrianisation of West Street will be high on the agenda.
Last month, a survey was taken with members of the business community in the West Street and greater area, aimed at identifying needs and wants as part of the pedestrianisation.