Councillors Green Light commencement process for SDZ Planning Scheme

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LOCAL Councillors have given their approval to the commencement process of the North Quays Draft Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) Planning Scheme.
The Draft Planning Scheme came before Councillors for approval at the October plenary meeting of Waterford City & County Council which was held last week in City Hall.
Councillors had already been briefed on the contents of the document at a special workshop held last month.
At last week’s meeting, Councillors and Council officials praised the work of those involved in the Draft Planning Scheme and encouraged members of the public to engage with the process.
The Planning Scheme will be on public display from October 18th for a period of six weeks, with the closing date for receipt of comments and observations being November 29th.
Mayor of Waterford City & County Cllr Pat Nugent (FG) described the Planning Scheme as a “wonderful plan for this historic city” and said the commencement process represented a “very exciting day for Waterford”.
Cllr John Cummins (FG) described the document as “visionary” and a “blueprint for the extension of our city centre”.
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As once it was: images from the OPW’s 2002 North Quays International Architectural & Urban Design competition

He said the project has the ability to “transform the city” and will enable Waterford to compete with Cork, Limerick and Galway.
Cllr Cummins said he was confident that the necessary funding required from government would be forthcoming.
Cllr Mary Roche (Ind) said the project will “literally transform Waterford”.
“We’ve watched other cities getting investment in terms of third level, convention centres and all sorts of things,” she said.
“We can leapfrog over all of them with the potential which this development will bring to Waterford.”
She said it was important to highlight that members of the public wouldn’t yet see actual designs or layouts of buildings as the current process is a planning framework rather than an application.
She noted that An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already pledged his support for the development and said she looked forward to the announcement of capital development funding in December.
Cllr John O’Leary (FF) described the project as “very ambitious” but raised concerns about its sustainability.
He noted that the IDA has been “very quiet” in Waterford and seems to have “gone off the scene”.
“We need huge jobs investment to sustain such a venture,” he said.
“Without that happening, it will be a challenge. We need investment in jobs to create an atmosphere that will make this development sustainable.”
Cllr O’Leary said he believes Waterford doesn’t, at present, have the footfall levels needed to sustain such a development.
“It’s critical that the IDA and Enterprise Ireland get on board,” he said.
Cllr Eddie Mulligan (FF) noted that the document which was presented at the recent workshop had included a drawing of a vehicular bridge across the River Suir.
However, he pointed out that this was missing from the document which was presented to Councillors at last week’s meeting.
Director of Economic Development and Planning Lar Power explained that the picture which Cllr Mulligan was referring to was intended to show how a vehicular bridge would look at some stage in the future.
“In truth, we wouldn’t get funding for a third vehicular bridge at this time,” he said.
Mr Power explained that a form of shuttle service is proposed along with the pedestrian bridge from Clock Tower to the North Quays.
However, Cllr Mulligan highlighted the need for a third vehicular bridge and referenced the lengthy traffic delays on the Dunmore Road.
“There is a need, more than ever, for the third vehicular bridge,” he said, adding that traffic queues are often past The Woodlands Hotel at 8am on weekday mornings.
However, Lar Power reiterated that a third vehicular bridge will not happen at this time and pointed out that the Thomas Francis Meagher bridge has only been in operation since 2010.
“I can tell you categorically that it won’t happen,” he said.
“There is no way we’ll get a third vehicular bridge at this time.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Davy Daniels (Ind) sought information on the Michael Street development.
He said the issue had been discussed for many years and asked when work would commence.
CEO of Waterford City & County Council Michael Walsh explained that the envisaged start date for both the North Quays and Michael Street developments will be next summer, with the latter probably at a more advanced stage by that time.
Mr Walsh said there would be “significant disruption in construction terms” which would be carried out on a phased basis over a two year period.
“It’s in the interests of the city as a whole that we try and advance as many infrastructure works as we can,” he said.
He described the North Quays development as the largest such project the city has ever seen.

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