Concerns Persist in Apple Market

Eoghan Dalton Reports

The Metropolitan Mayor of Waterford is involved in helping to resolve a long-running dispute in the City’s Apple Market between residents and the night-time business community.
Residents are calling on an outright ban of outdoor gigs beneath the Market’s steel and glass canopy, whereas businesses are intent on keeping the current bylaw in place, which states bands must finish at 10pm. Waterford’s Metropolitan Mayor, Cllr Joe Kelly, believes a compromise can be found by placing a ban on amplified noise outdoors after 7pm. He said outdoor bands “are not the right way to imagine” the Apple Market and that it needs to be a lively living space with a focus on daytime events.

Concerned residents pictured near the Apple Market.

Concerned residents pictured near the Apple Market.

However Jim “Flash” Gordon, the owner of Revolution Bar in the Market, strongly disagreed with calls to limit the hours for bands: “Commercially we cannot do that – it’s ridiculous. We’re a night-time economy. We’re trying to make the city centre vibrant, the day of retail is gone.”
He pointed to how three new bars and nightclubs are set to open in the area: O’Grady’s Yard, The Beerkepper in place of the old Thirsty Scholar pub, and The Factory in the building that previously housed The Foundry nightclub. He believes this would not have been possible without the entertainment offering provided by pubs in the Apple Market, which has led to increased footfall for the entertainment district. Una Ryan, who has been living in the area for over 20 years, said several residents suffer from severe illnesses and require rest. This newspaper is aware of one resident who suffers from cardiac issues and so felt they had no choice but to leave the area and stay elsewhere for the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Tensions were enflamed at the start of the summer when a band played outdoors without any prior permission from Waterford Council. In that case, they found about the event from an advert in a local newspaper. Mr Gordon told The Munster Express he too was not aware of the gig until a handful of days before it went ahead. Residents support the holding of more daytime, family-friendly events, such as Spraoi and Winterval, something that Mayor Joe Kelly and Mr Gordon also wish to see for the Apple Market. The latter said plans are afoot to host both opera and theatre there later this year and he believes the music output of the Apple Market will be much reduced as daytime events become more embedded. When it was relaunched a year ago to much fanfare as a contemporary entertainment district, the Market quickly became a focal point for key events, including the senior hurlers’ All-Ireland Final appearance last September.

However people residing in the alleyways leading into the quarter say the Council has allowed the public space be “commandeered” by private businesses, with the latest example of this being the sound policy being devised by the market’s nightclubs. Residents insist this should be the responsibility of the local authority instead of being left to self-regulation. Waterford Council has confirmed it did not do any preliminary work on potential noise when planning the €1.2 million steel and glass canopy that was erected over the Apple Market just over a year ago, as it decided on monitoring noise after construction. Since then it has tested decibel levels on a number of occasions. Publicans in the area are hoping to launch their sound policy to assuage concerns in the coming weeks. Mr Gordon said the key elements of the policy will be ensuring the amount of decibels indoors are limited and that this will be combined with keeping windows of bars closed and speakers facing away from the alleyways residents live in.

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