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Outdoor Dining For Local Towns Under Project ACT

Writes Ciaran Dineen

At the latest meeting of the Carrigaline Municipal District, Councillors were given an update on the progress of the Activate Cork Towns (ACT) initiative, which focuses on the response needed to support town and communities against COVID-19.

One of the biggest ideas that has come to fruition will be the installation of outdoor dining opportunities for businesses in the Owenabue Mall as it was announced that some car parking spaces in the Owenabue carpark will be removed in order to free up some space.

Project ACT covers a number of towns in Cork including Carrigaline and Passage West, with committee meetings involving Council officials, elected County Councillors and local representative groups such as the Carrigaline Business Association, the Carrigaline Community Association and the Carrigaline My Town, My Plan group.

In response to circumstances relating to COVID-19, many European cities have reacted in a very progressive way by placing an emphasis on creating more space for pedestrians and cyclists. Doing so attracts greater footfall to towns and villages so that businesses can in turn benefit as a result.

While spaces from the front of the Owenabue carpark will be removed, they will be replaced by the creation of longer-term parking options in the near-future, with work already beginning on a site adjacent to the carpark, which was recently bought by the Council.

A new entrance and exit arrangement will also come into effect to improve traffic flow on the main street once changes are formalised. Provisions have also been made for an increase in the amount of public seating availability, with the Council hoping to develop an ‘Age Friendly’ vision, which is consistent with the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy.

Project ACT has also provided ‘Town Ambassadors’ to both Carrigaline and Passage West. Until the end of June, Nicola Howard (Passage West) and Richard Jordan (Carrigaline), who are both school traffic wardens by day, will be out and about in the two towns in a new council capacity. The roles of the town ambassadors include giving direction and guidance when needed, helping with road crossings, and providing dog-fouling bags to dog-walkers where needed.

Importantly, the Council has indicated that its application process for outdoor seating licences remains open to local businesses should they wish to apply. However, as part of the concept of Project ACT there will now be no charges applied for those granted approval. The process will close soon as the Council seeks to implement their Project ACT changes in the next 3-4 weeks, so Main Street businesses are encouraged to come forward as soon as possible if they wish to be considered.

With many enterprises able to open by the end of the month this scheme could considerably improve customer capacity, which due to the current 2-Metre social distancing rule, heavily impacts many businesses with a limited revenue stream.

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