Archaeological survey of Enniscorthy town centre

IRISH STREET – Vacant site could be a game changer for Enniscorthy town centre development plan.

By Dan Walsh at July meeting of Wexford County Council

Wexford County Council has announced its proposal to develop a ‘brownfield site’ in the centre of Enniscorthy, on a vacant site formerly the location of Murphy-Flood’s Hotel, and empty buildings bounding Irish Street and Barrack Street. It is recommended that the development proceed subject to an archaeological survey of the site and the provision of a record survey of the existing buildings in the area.

The development comprises the demolition of the empty buildings and the construction of a new multi-storey structure of mixed development incorporating basement parking, (for 27 cars, four of which would be accessible for people with disabilities accessed from Barrack Street) two floors of commercial/office/community use space at ground and first floor levels and three upper floors containing 18 apartments and shared commercial space at Irish Street and Barrack Street.

But there are still challenges to be overcome. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage are recommending that an archaeological impact assessment be carried out by relevant expertise, as the Department notes that; “A number of buildings located within the development site are identified and listed in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.”

Three submissions from the public have been received during public consultation and are contained in the Chief Executive’s Report which was presented to members at Monday’s monthly meeting of Wexford County Council held at County Hall, Wexford.

One concerned town resident claimed that “a seven-storey building is not in keeping with the streetscape and Enniscorthy is a historical rural town, and the building would dwarf all of the existing preserved shopfronts. It was also noted that “making the area from Market Square to Irish Street pedestrian would only add to traffic congestion following on from existing pedestrianisation.”

Another resident claims “that the scale of the building proposed does not suit the streetscape of the conservation area, is not proportionate to the historic area of the town and will impact negatively on the streetscape of Irish Street.”

Another observation states that “the opportunity to widen the entrance to Irish Street would be lost. The proposed social housing should be made available for older people,” and it concludes: “The height of the proposed development in relation to the adjoining buildings and surrounding streetscape lacks integrated urban development and planning, and will have a major impact on views of Vinegar Hill.”

The proposed development for Irish Street and Barrack Street could transform Enniscorthy town centre (Image – Wexford County Council).

The report was welcomed by the Enniscorthy members with support from Cllrs John O’Rourke and Jackser Owens, while Cllr Cathal Byrne supported the proposed developments, he had questions regards the traffic flow and whether two-way traffic could be accommodated in the area?

Acting Chief Executive Eamonn Hore, in the report, points out the following; “There is no pedestrianisation proposed with this development at this time and there are no plans to pedestrianise Irish Street or Barrack Street. However, if the town centre is to be successful as a pleasant place to live and do business, the dominance of the car in the town needs to be rebalanced. The widening of Irish Street or Barrack Street is not recommended as the existing street widths are adequate for traffic, however, the new buildings set back will improve pedestrian safety.”

The proposed development is considered to comply with the Enniscorthy Town and Environs Plan, 2008-2014 (extended) and the proper planning and sustainable development of the area. It is, therefore, recommended that the development proceed subject to an archaeological survey of the site and the provision of a record survey of the existing buildings in the area.

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