Section 5 Towns

opendate_range12 Jan, 2021, 9:00am - 23 Mar, 2021, 5:00pm

5.  SMALL TOWNS

Note: Please click on the links to supporting zoning maps to the right under Materials.

 

5.1      RATHDOWNEY

 

Population

 

2016 Census

2011 Census

% Increase/Decrease

1208

1271

5%

Housing Stock

2016 Census

Vacancy

619

78

Infrastructure

Water

Waste Water

Servicing Road Network

 

Broadband

Water Treatment Plant

Waste Water Treatment Plant (Additional capacity for 1,957 PE)

R435, R433 - Proximity to M7 Dublin to Limerick and M8 Dublin to Cork

Fibre Broadband

Social Infrastructure

Schools

Church

Sporting Facilities

Other

4

Church of Ireland and Catholic Church

GAA and soccer pitches, Golf Club

Community centre, post office, bank, fire station

Environment

Conservation

Flooding

River Barrow/Nore SAC and Goul River Marsh pNHA

FRA A and B associated with the River Erkina, in particular the northern outer limits of the development boundary

Cultural Heritage

Protected Structures

Monuments

25 protected structures

4 national monuments

Sustainable Transport

Public Transport and

6km from Ballybrophy Train Station (daily services from Dublin to Cork and Limerick)

5.1.1  CHARACTER AND CONTEXT

Rathdowney is a small town located on the River Erkina in the south west of County Laois. It lies some 32 km southwest of Porlaoise at the point where the R433 regional road from Abbeyleix to Templemore is crossed by the R435 from Borris In Ossory to Johnstown. The R433 provides access for Rathdowney to the Dublin-Cork M8 motorway, while the R435 links the town to the Dublin-Limerick M7.

With a relatively compact town centre, the heritage qualities and character of Rathdowney are largely derived from its development of mainly 19th Century 2 storey structures fronting onto Market Square and along Main Street which later developed to the south along the R435. There are significant infill opportunities to the rear of the Main Street, as the backland area has not experienced any significant redevelopment and largely retains its 19th Century footprints. The town in recent times has extended along the main approach roads, with significant residential development evident to the east and south.

5.1.2  DEVELOPMENT AND REGENERATION STRATEGY

5.1.2.1                   Residential Development

The total housing stock for Rathdowney as indicated in the 2016 Census was 523 dwellings. Although there has been an increase in population of 5% since the 2011 census, new residential development has largely taken place in the form of one off rural dwellings removed from the town. The Core and Housing Strategies of the Plan provides a housing allocation of 60 units over the Plan period. A review of planning history within the town has determined that there are no committed private housing units.  Currently, 13 residential units are being developed by Laois County Council at Moore Street. 

Having regard to the housing allocation for the town there is adequate land zoned in Rathdowney (on the western approach to the town centre) to cater for the future housing needs of the town over the lifetime of the Plan. This strategy seeks to continue a pattern of consolidation of settlement development within the limits of the built up area and redevelopment opportunities within the town core. This will ensure the delivery of sustainable communities comprising of a mix of housing types, densities and tenure.

5.1.2.2   Town Centre Regeneration

There is a significant level of vacancy in the town centre, particularly to the north of Market Square and the south side of Church Street, with some units in danger of becoming derelict. With this high level of vacancy within the town centre it must be recognised that some of the former uses will not be returning and therefore it is imperative to identify and encourage credible alternative functions for these units, such as repurposing as homes (which may not require planning permission as per the Rebuilding Ireland – Bring Back Homes document). Whilst the primary function of the town centre must remain and be respected, there is huge potential for the town centre to increase its residential population and foster a compact development approach which will have benefits in terms of environmental and climate resilience. 

Fig 5.1: Regeneration Area (indicative outline only)

Other functions could be in the form of live/work units and social and cultural uses.  Alternative uses for prominent buildings in the town centre such as medical, public services and social housing should be considered. Many of these buildings are Protected Structures and as such, careful restoration and sensitive development should be considered.

This town centre area would benefit from a regeneration designation and the completion of an urban regeneration framework to focus regeneration in a coordinated manner, focusing on compact growth, building on climate resilience and bringing back vitality and vibrancy to the town core.

5.1.2.3                   Employment and Economic Development

Of the population aged 15 years and over, 46% are in employment. The main employers in Rathdowney include Meadow Meats, Supervalu, Dunnes Stores, Midland Hardware and local banks.

The town provides for a wide range of retail / commercial services commensurate with its level 4 position in the County retail hierarchy. Retail and service provision includes a pharmacy, hardware provider, pubs, convenience retail, barbers, post office, take away, credit union, hair/beauty premises, butchers and clothing shop.

As previously indicated, there is significant vacancy in the town centre and opportunity exists to enhance the retail profile in the town. In this regard, the Planning Authority will look favourably upon the re-use of vacant sites and buildings for retail purposes.

Lands available for General Business are located within the town’s development boundary and can facilitate the development of small-scale services and local enterprise. An area is also located to the north of the town to accommodate larger scale industrial uses or expansion of existing uses such as Meadow Meats.

It is noted that development for such uses has been stagnant in recent years, the accessibility of the town in proximity to the M7 and M8 makes it an attractive location for inward investment. However, most recently, the former Rathdowney Retail Outlets has been redeveloped as Brand Central Hub (formerly Erkina Digital Hub).  This facility is part of a county wide remote working initiative, Laois Hub Collective, which provide vital services such as remote working space, incubator units for enterprise and employment uses and educational resources for people in the community. This is a vital service for the town both in terms of boosting enterprise and employment and regeneration of a vacant site.

The town also has significant tourism potential owing to its location on the River Erkina. A section of the River Erkina, between Castle Durrow and Boston Bridge near Manor Stone service station, will be developed as a Blueway and will see significant active tourism potential. It is anticipated that Rathdowney could capitalize on the tourism potential and seek to develop the River Erkina further towards Rathdowney.

5.1.2.4                   Social and Community Infrastructure

In terms of recreation facilities, the town is well serviced with GAA and soccer pitches, Rathdowney Golf Club located to the south east and also the essential amenity of the River Erkina which has is being developed as a Blueway.  The community is also served by a Catholic and Church of Ireland Church as well as a community health centre and a library. The HSE has a residential house (Erkina House), which also serves as an outpatient clinic and is used by mental health associations.   

The town has a strong education base with 3 primary schools, Scoil Bride, Convent School, Church of Ireland National School and one secondary school, St. Fergal Post Primary School. Rathdowney’s Community Resource Centre also has a multifunctional communal, educational and recreational role and is centrally located within the town.  There is also a further education and training centre planned for the town.  

5.1.2.5                   Physical Infrastructure

The following essential infrastructure serves the town:

  • Rathdowney’s water supply is from the Beleady and Kilcorcan Group Water Schemes and the Arcon Mines public water supply.  Rathdowney has its own wastewater treatment plant.
  • Wireless broadband infrastructure
  • A recycling bring bank is located south of the Square.

5.1.3 WRITTEN OBJECTIVES

Built Form and Regeneration

RD 1       Ensure new development compliments and enhances the townscape, uses quality building materials and employs best conservation practice in relation to protected structures;

RD 2       Reinforce the urban structure of The Square in particular by way of maintenance, renovation, redevelopment and infill development;

RD 3       Encourage redevelopment or restoration of derelict, vacant or underused buildings within the town centre as appropriate and also infill development and backland development; encourage the maintenance and use of all town centre structures, especially the upper storeys to secure their longevity and support the town’s vibrancy;

RD 4       Enhance approach roads, Johnstown Road, Conoboro Road, Donaghmore Road, Errill Road by way of landscaping;

RD 5       Support the preparation and implementation of an Urban Regeneration Framework for Rathdowney over the plan period.

 

Economic and Community Development

RD 6       Encourage and facilitate the re-use and regeneration of derelict land and buildings for retail and other town centre uses;

RD 7       Facilitate the rejuvenation of Rathdowney Market Square as a civic plaza and functioning market place on a once-weekly or once-monthly basis;

RD 8       Facilitate and support the redevelopment of Brand Central Hub for community enterprise;

RD 9       Support the development of the tourism potential of Rathdowney and its location on the River Erkina;

RD 10     Provide for the expansion and development of educational, social, community and recreational facilities in the settlement;

 

Infrastructure

RD 11     Provide and enhance strategic and recreational pedestrian and cycling linkages and associated street lighting and cycle parking at buildings in community use, especially schools;

RD 12     Enhance and facilitate improvements to the Rathdowney road network as necessary;

RD 13     Identify a b us stop area and develop related disabled parking spaces and cycle parking stands in consultation with the local community and bus service providers;

RD 14     Develop Greenfield lands within flood zone A to the south of the town centre as a town park and encourage the enhancement of the pond area for amenity use;

RD 15     Support public realm enhancement works to improve pedestrian movements within the town centre which distinguish core area of the town by way of paving, street lighting, parking, undergrounding of cables, street furniture, planting etc

 

5.2      DURROW

Population

 

2016 Census

2011 Census

% Increase/Decrease

834

845

-1%

Housing Stock

2016 Census

Vacancy

384

52

Infrastructure

Water

 

Waste Water

Servicing Road Network

Broadband

Durrow‘s water supply is from the Convent and Fermoyle Wells

Wastewater treatment plant (Additional capacity of 2,071 PE)

N77, R639, R434

Serviced

Social Infrastructure

Schools

Church

 

Sporting Facilities

Other

1 Primary School

St Fintan’s Church of Ireland, The Holy Trinity

Soccer and GAA pitches, Children’s play park

Port Office, Fire Station, HSE, Garda Station, community hall, health centre, library, cultural centre, civil defence, Level 4 Retail Centre

Environment

Conservation

 

Flooding

Located on the River Erkina within River Barrow/Nore SAC

FRZ A and B associated with River Erkina which runs in a west/east trajectory

Cultural Heritage

Protected Structures

Monuments

34 protected structures

6 national monuments

Sustainable Transport

Public Transport

Cycle Corridor

NTA, Sliabh Bloom Coaches, Local Link,

Cycle corridor between Durrow and Abbeyleix on N77

5.2.1  CHARACTER AND CONTEXT

Durrow is a historic and picturesque town in the south of the county, located on the River Erkina and within the Demesne of 16th Century Castle Durrow Estate. The town lies approximately 25km south of Portlaoise and is located on the R639 road at its junction with the N77. The urban form of the village as seen today developed as a planned estate village under the influence of Viscount of Ashbrook, William Flower, M.P. for Portarlington.

The urban form of the town is dispersed however with a compact town centre. The tree lined central Square (dissected by the N77), which is overlooked by several fine 19th Century 2 and 3 storey buildings of high architectural order, provides a central focus to the town and an important link between the village and the Castle Durrow Estate. The walled Castle Durrow which is set in its own demesne also provides a focal landmark within the town centre. The village has developed along the N77 (Kilkenny Road) and the R639 (Cork Rd).

Much of the development to the south of the town square consists of residential development, both higher density housing estates and single dwellings on larger plots. Development to the north of the River Erkina is less dense and consists of a mix of uses including, residential, community and sporting facilities.

In order to preserve the special character of the town, it has been designated as an Architectural Conservation Area. The area known as the Pound is a small area at the junction of Carrigan Street and the Derry Road.  This area has been landscaped with seating and provides a space where local artists can display their work. Tae Lane has also been planted and landscaped to provide a small amenity area, incorporating the Top Pump and traditional street lighting.

The River Erkina flows through the village meeting with the River Nore on the outskirts of the town. Mature trees and wooded areas enhance the sense of place and character of the town, integrating the town into the surrounding hilly landscape.

The land use strategy for Durrow aims to maintain and add to a built environment and heritage that is both attractive and distinctive, creating a unique sense of place. This will be achieved through the sensitive development of infill sites and the conservation of key buildings particularly within the Architectural Conservation Area. Supporting a compact and vibrant village centre is essential to maintaining the vibrancy and heritage of the town, in particular, as a key destination town on the Ireland’s Ancient East route.

5.2.2  DEVELOPMENT AND REGENERATION STRATEGY

5.2.2.1                   Residential and Town Centre Regeneration

The total housing stock for Durrow as indicated in the 2016 Census was 523 dwellings. There has been a slight decrease in population since 2011 (primarily due to an aging population) and new residential development has largely taken place in the form of one off rural dwellings removed from the town and smaller development schemes within infill sites within the town.

The Core and Housing Strategy of the Plan provides a housing allocation of 60 units over the Plan period. A review of extant planning permissions within the town has determined that there are 8 committed units.

New residential development within the town core backlands is impeded by the landlocked nature of the area with limited access onto the main access routes which are located within the ACA, however it is anticipated that 25 units could be delivered on infill/brownfield sites. The Plan therefore identifies 3 sites for new residential development which are sufficient to meet the projected housing requirements during the Plan period. These sites have been selected based on their geographical spread across the town and ability to consolidate the existing urban form and physical infrastructure. 

5.2.2.2                   Employment and Economic Development

Of the population aged 15 years and over, 56% are in employment. Unemployment is only slightly above the National average at 6%. The main employers in Durrow include Castle Durrow, Dunnes Garden Nurseries, the Castle Arms Hotel, Ashbrook House, The Stores and the range of services providers in the town including doctors, hairdressers, banks, public houses, garages and small shops.

Durrow provides for a wide range of retail/commercial services commensurate with its level 4 position within the County retail hierarchy, having sustained the business of a traditional group of retail shops and commercial services, including convenience retailing, banking, hardware provider, pharmacy, restaurants, bars, café, takeaways and clothing stores. Most of the buildings are owned by the proprietors operating their businesses from the ground floor, all of which collectively contribute to the character of this vibrant heritage centre.

Durrow was a traditional stopping point on the old Cork Road and has a long-established tradition of hotel and catering as a result. Durrow also has a strong tourism base, with Castle Durrow and 2 smaller hotels located in the town centre, providing local employment. A number of sites to the south west of Castle Durrow, which includes a disused heritage structure (noted below as Opportunity Site 1 in Fig 5.2), has been zoned for tourism purposes to allow for the expansion of tourist related facilities within the town.

The town also has significant tourism potential owing to its location on the River Erkina. A section of the River Erkina to the west of Durrow to Boston Bridge will be developed as a Blueway and will see significant active tourism potential especially for canoeing and kayaking.

Durrow is also in a prime location, offering significant heritage and amenity tourism products to merit its inclusion on Failte Ireland’s, Irelands Ancient East route. It is also the starting point for the Leafy Loop walking trail and also offers excellent cycling opportunity. The Durrow Community Bike Hire Scheme, Pedal Vintage, was recently launched, which has significant potential to market Durrow as a cycle hub.

Fig 5.2: Opportunity Site 1

Lands available for General Business and Enterprise and Employment are primarily located within the town’s development boundary to the north of the town centre and can facilitate the development of small-scale services and local enterprise. These lands have been selected as appropriate given their location adjoining the R744. Durrow is currently served by wireless broadband.

5.2.2.3                   Social and Community Infrastructure

Durrow has a well-established social and community infrastructure. Durrow is served by a primary school in the grounds of the Castle off the main street. A crèche is located within the Square. A playground was opened in 2009 for the community at the Old Boys School on the Kilkenny Road and has been further expanded now to create other sporting pursuits such as basketball. 

A community centre is located beside the church on the Kilkenny Road which caters for a number of organisations. Durrow Courthouse has also been successfully restored and is currently being used as a library and exhibition/meeting area for the use of the local community.

There are also a number of established community, sports and interest groups in the town and who work together for the collective benefit of Durrow.

Durrow Community Plan 2019 - 2023 is a community led approach to how the people of Durrow would like to see their town develop over the next number of years, highlighting priority projects such the redevelopment of the Methodist Church and Civil Defense property on Patrick St as a community facility (which is currently under development), requirement for additional play space, developing Durrow as a cycling hub and facilitating hot desking and remote working facilities within the village.

The town benefits from the amenity area of the River Erkina and is the starting point of the Leafy Loop walking trail. The recently approved River Erkina Blueway will be developed over the next number of years which starts within Castle Durrow Demesne to Boston Bridge further west. The central square provides passive amenity space and active space during events held within the village such as “The Scarecrow Festival” and which is also a short walk from the small pocket park of the Pound.

5.2.2.4                   Physical Infrastructure and Movement

Durrow has its own wastewater treatment plant. Durrow‘s water supply is from the Convent and Fermoyle Wells. It has sufficient capacity in terms of both water and waste water to facilitate the development and growth provided for the lifetime of this Plan.

As previously indicated, Durrow is located on the N77 and its junction with the R639, both heavily trafficked routes from Portlaoise to Cashel (old Cork Road) and Kilkenny respectively. The thoroughfare of the N77 which is a direct route between Portlaoise and Kilkenny for many HGVs, particular along Carrigan Street and the Pound creates an unpleasant pedestrian experience. An orbital route is planned at a section of the N77 to the south east of the town which connects to the R639 to the south west.

Natural and managed open spaces including groups of trees and landscaped areas within Durrow, can contribute towards enhanced urban quality and provision of amenities for residents. This Green Infrastructure should be enhanced to provide connectivity between features such as the Pound and the Square and along the riverside within the village.

5.2.3  WRITTEN OBJECTIVES

Built Form and Regeneration

DU 1      Preserve and enhance the special character and appearance of Durrow’s Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) by requiring that the height, scale, design and materials of any proposed development within the village and in the surrounding area should complement the character of the village and not diminish its distinctiveness of place.  New development shall respond to the individual site context and take due cognisance of adjoining development;

DU 2      Encourage redevelopment or restoration of derelict, vacant or underused buildings within the town centre as appropriate and also infill development and backland development; encourage the maintenance and use of all town centre structures, especially the upper storeys to secure their longevity and support the town’s vibrancy;

DU 3      Improve the quality of the public realm and in particular of the open spaces in the centre of Durrow including the provision of seating away from the principal carriageways to allow for the supervision of children, the improvement of street lighting and the maintenance of the town pumps;

DU 4      Protect and plant groups of trees on the principal approach roads and audit signage on all approach roads;

DU 5      Maintain the quality and features of the public realm on The Square and introduce consistent village branding/presentation at the village entry points and along the main streets in the form of high quality signage, tourism information, public art and consistent village type lighting standards which would strengthen Durrow’s identity;

DU 6      Support and promote the implementation, where feasible, of the strategy contained in the Durrow Sustainable Community Plan; 

DU 7      Support the redevelopment of identified Regeneration/Opportunity Sites in the town (Map 5.2(b)).

 

Economic and Community Development

DU 8      Promote Durrow as a tourism destination on Ireland’s Ancient East Route and facilitate active tourism opportunities such a cycling and walking;

DU 9      Harness the tourism potential associated with the River Erkina Blueway and walking trail of the Leafy Loop and promote the environmental tourism potential of Knockanoran woods / Bishop Woods alluvial woodland site;

DU 10    Upgrade the river amenity area near the Old Stone Bridge and the Tae Lane area subject to the requirements of Habitats Directive;

DU 11    Support and facilitate the development of enterprise to the north of the town and maintain and improve the range of commercial services available in the town centre;

DU 12    Encourage the intensive use of existing community and sporting facilities and develop additional facilities which are flexible and capable of being managed for a number of different uses;

DU 13    Support the development of Opportunity Site 1 for community enterprise/tourism purposes as indicated on Map 5.2(b) of the Plan;

 

Infrastructure

DU 14     Improve pedestrian linkages and provide cycle path linkages within the town and facilitate the provision of cycle parking at buildings in community use;

DU 15    Investigate the feasibility, subject to the requirements of the Habitats Directive, of enhancing the Durrow road network as necessary and reserving land and pursuing funding for new orbital/relief routes;

DU 16    Provide disabled parking and cycle parking in association with the existing bus stopping area.

               

5.3      BALLYLYNAN

Population

 

2016 Census

2011 Census

% Increase/Decrease

1101

1084

1.5%

Housing Stock

2016 Census

426

37

Infrastructure

Water

 

Waste Water

 

Servicing Road Network

Broadband

Rahin Group Water Scheme and the Kyle Public Water Supply.

Ballylynan has its own wastewater treatment plant (Additional capacity of 702 PE)

N78

Serviced

Social Infrastructure

Schools

Church

Sporting Facilities

 

Other

1 Primary School

RC Church

Soccer and GAA pitches, Children’s play park

Post Office, takeaway, Garda Station, community hall, health centre, new library, shop, Level 5 Retail Centre

Environment

Conservation

Flooding

5km east of the River Barrow/Nore SAC

NA

Cultural Heritage

Protected Structures

Monuments

5 protected structures

3 national monuments

Sustainable Transport

Public Transport

IT Carlow bus services, Local Link

5.3.1  CHARACTER AND CONTEXT

Ballylynan village is located in south-east County Laois in close proximity to the Carlow/Kildare border, approximately 28 km south of Portlaoise on the N78 between Athy and Castlecomer. The Main Street is located in a northeast, southwest trajectory along the N78. The urban form of the village developed in a linear pattern along the N78 with much of the higher density residential development dispersed in clusters of varying layouts along the western boundary of the village.

The traditional village centre consists of single and two vernacular buildings forming a continuous building line either side of the N78. The tree lined Main Street has many traditional stone faced buildings which add to the character and sense of place within the village. Many of the approach roads into the village have significant ribbon development of one off rural dwellings. 

Overall the village has developed in a linear and dispersed manner. The development of infill/brownfield sites within the village centre presents an opportunity to reinforce a more compact development pattern and provide the facilities for the continued growth and expansion of the town

The land use strategy for Ballylynan aims to consolidate and enhance the village core, regeneration of backland and infill site, public realm improvements and enhanced permeability from new residential areas to the new school. 

5.3.2  DEVELOPMENT AND REGENERATION STRATEGY

5.3.2.1                   Residential Development and Town Centre Regeneration

The total housing stock for Ballylynan as indicated in the 2016 Census was 426 dwellings. Although there has been a slight increase in population of 1.5% since the 2011 census, new residential development has largely taken place as infill development with existing residential zoned land and one off dwellings removed from the town.

The Core and Housing Strategy of the Plan provides a housing allocation of 181 units over the Plan period or 3% of the housing allocation for the County. Of this allocation, it has been determined that approximately 25 units could also be delivered on infill/brownfield sites. A review of extant planning permissions within the town has determined that there are 39 committed units.

All further new residential development is accommodated in 4 land parcels as close as possible to the town centre area thus promoting sustainable land use and transport. Such parcels of land could also provide essential opportunity to develop serviced site to accommodate New Homes in Small Towns and Villages initiative due to the towns location in an area under strong urban influence, excessive ribbon development on the approach roads to the town and its proximity to large urban centres.

There is an opportunity to develop the backland areas, including refurbishment of the associated vacant dwellings on the east side of the Main Street identified as Opportunity Site 1 in Fig 5.3 below. This area of approximately 1.4ha incorporates a number of vacant units and their backland areas, also including an unfinished housing development to the south east of the site. Additional uses can be accommodated on this town centre zoning such as live work units, commercial enterprise and community enterprise. A masterplanning approach should be undertaken by the project proponent and the output submitted to the Planning Authority as part of a planning application as a means of demonstrating that key urban design and good place making principles have been fully considered in the proposal.

There are also a 3 traditional stone cottages (noted as Opportunity Sites 2 in Fig 5.3 below), 2 of which are Protected Structures, located to the south of Linden Drive and fronting onto to Main Street which are currently vacant and in need of refurbishment. Such structures should be brought back into use such as age friendly living units or space for community enterprise.