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Councillor Seeks to Preserve Streetscape in Future Planning Applications

Writes Ciaran Dineen

At the final Carrigaline Municipal District (MD) meeting of the year in 2020, Councillor Liam O’Connor (FG) has put forward an idea to promote the maintenance and upkeep of streetscape in the district.

Cllr O’Connor has requested that the district write to the Planning Department in Cork County Council, to see if it is possible for future planning applications with main street frontage to have conditional permission attached (when granted) that requires the applicant to maintain a standard of shop front appearance.

It comes following an incredibly successful campaign in the Carrigaline MD for the 2020 Residential Painting Scheme and Shop Front Improvement, in which a total of 14 businesses and 10 residences in Carrigaline and Passage West were approved for this year’s scheme. Given that this was the largest ever up-take, the district was asked to somewhat formalise their approach for future years.

A recent document has been produced to promote suitable shopfront design and upgrade, which seeks to give a guide as to how frontage should reflect the architecture of the building and the surrounding area. The guidelines give advice on a best practice approach that can be used by shop owners when considering what they would like to do with their buildings.

Shop frontage is addressed under the soon to expire County Development Plan, which highlights the importance of good upkeep and maintenance, noting that poorly designed and shabby frontage can seriously damage the streetscape in our towns.

Currently there are no by-laws in Cork County that control or direct the nature of shopfronts to uphold a certain standard, but those who seek to apply for funding under the schemes must choose from a limited amount of pre-chosen colours and only use a certain type of signage.

However, Cllr O’Connor believes that in formalising the approach, more should be done to ensure that shop owners will be required on-condition of planning permission, to main a visual standard. “Carrigaline has a huge variation in business facades, from design to colour, and it would ideal for these to be standardised” he told The Carrigdhou Newspaper. “The aim is to improve the appearance of businesses and shops which front public streets, making Carrigaline more aesthetically pleasing to both residents and visitors. Throughout County Cork, we have wonderful examples of traditional, well-designed shopfronts and displays, which make the streetscape a more attractive and inviting place to shop and do business in.”

He was supported in County Hall by Councillor Marcia D’Alton (Ind), who has been very active in signing up businesses and home-owners in Passage West for the project this Summer. “I think that’s a really good suggestion and I have to say that I think the Council’s official shopfront guide is a really fantastic document and it is particularly representative of conservation areas, so I think it’s especially good to do what Liam suggests.”

Councillor Seámus McGrath (FG) indicated his support also but signalled that an important issue that needed to be highlighted was the simple fact that a lot of shopfront works are undertaken without planning permission, which in most cases is required through the formal application process.

It was agreed that the District officers would write to Planning and await correspondence from them to see what can be done.

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