Droichead Nua or Newbridge
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Regeneration of Main Street / Edward Street
The following are the contents of a Discussion Document Submitted
Newbridge Civic Pride and The Town Council
Please note that this document is written as a discussion document ONLY, its only purpose is to generate some suggested topics which the constituent members of NCP could consider.
Droichead Nua / Newbridge was established as a garrison town in the early 19th century. The town evolved around the Liffey crossing and Military Barracks, this has resulted in some lop-sidedness on Main Street. With the closure of the barracks, the large area of land enclosed by the barracks was developed for industrial use; much of the barracks was demolished during the 60’s & 70’s, and this century has seen the departure / relocation of many of the industrial concerns to more suitable “edge of town” locations.
Less than thirty years ago the townspeople depended on four main sources of employment - Irish Ropes, Newbridge Cutlery, the Military, and the Equine Industry. Over the intervening years the employment base of the town has widened significantly, and the availability of new residential units has enticed people from major urban areas such as Dublin to settle here to raise their families. Consequently Newbridge has grown from a relatively small town to a commercial urbanised area of some significance both locally and regionally.
The town was bypassed in 1996, and prior to this the Main Street / Edward Street was a national primary route. The O’Neill Town Improvement Plan which addressed the streetscape of Main Street / Edward Street, although passed by KCC, was never implemented. Now with the imminent opening of Whitewater, we feel that it is an opportune time to develop a modern, attractive town centre appropriate for an established urban centre of regional importance.
We must endeavour to ensure that Newbridge can continue to provide a high quality living environment, nurture a healthy and creative way of life, support economic, social, political and cultural activity and deliver a robust, distinctive and attractive physical environment.
Aim / Purpose
Over many years the Tidy Towns Reports have commented on the streetscape of Newbridge, sometimes positively – The Riverbank Arts Ctr., Bord na Mona, the pedestrianisation of Georges Street, and buildings such as The Bank of Ireland, McElwain Terrace, and Rowan Terrace etc.
However many of the comments over the years have been negative, i.e. the wire-scape, excessive signage, litter & graffiti, and the lack of a “focus” in the town centre area.
Therefore we are suggesting that the aim / purpose of this discussion document should be:
- To rejuvenate the Main Street and Edward Street in order to provide an attractive, user friendly and safe living space for the town’s residents.
- To promote an attractive “high street” type atmosphere which would encourage additional trade and business to the traditional town centre.
- To increase “footfall” down Edward Street and Main Street, by improving the facilities available to shoppers and business, increasing footfall in these main arteries would also result in bringing / improving trade in adjoining streets.
Vibrant streets and civic spaces, defined by their surrounding buildings, but with their own distinct character, should form a coherent interconnected network of places that support social interaction and display a hierarchy of private, commercial and civil functions.
The Council vision as outlined in the Local Area Plan 2003 states that “The Council will endeavour to create a more attractive, environment through the development of attractive civic spaces, fine streets and a pedestrian friendly environment.” Section 1.11.1
The Local Area Plan aims to protect the towns “retail base” and states “It is the policy of the Council to reinforce the historic town centre as the heart of the town, to increase its vibrancy and to improve its environment” 2.7.1a
De-cabling of Main Street / Edward Street.
The de-cabling of Main Street / Edward Street, and the replacement of the existing “National Primary Route” style street lights, some of which are metallic, some on wooden poles, would improve the streetscape. The current street lights need to be standardised and modernised by replacing them with an attractive light standard of high quality design.
The positioning and design of the light standards should be examined in order to cater for both the pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
The cost and traffic calming advantages of erecting double lights on a single standard along a central median should also be investigated; this design may rid the street of its “National Primary Route” look, and also provide a safer pedestrian environment. It would also eliminate the practise of double parking (outside Traffic Warden hours) allowing traffic to flow.
The Local Area Plan states:“It is an objective of the Council to encourage the voluntary removal and under-grounding of overhead cables within the town centre by the various utility providers”. O3.7.4
While it is accepted that this proposal would be expensive, it should be noted that much of the overhead cabling on Main Street and Edward Street (Town Hall side) has already been under grounded, the main problems areas are on the opposite side of the street, stretching from the Bridge to Weston. If under grounding wiring was to be included in Planning Permissions granted, it would have a positive effect with no cost to the Council.
The long-term benefits in improving the general appearance Main Street / Edward Street far outweigh the financial outlay.
Pedestrian Crossing Points:
The provision of additional safe crossing points for pedestrians, would promote greater footfall on both sides of the Main Street / Edward Street. Some of these would not necessarily need to be traffic light controlled.
One example of an area which would benefit from such a crossing point would be the area from the Town Hall crossing to Georges Street – a safe crossing providing pedestrian access could be provided by raising the street surface slightly (as has been done on the Eyre Street side of Georges Street). This would promote a new “civic space” at the Town Hall, and encourage pedestrians / shoppers to cross to / from Georges Street.
Any pedestrian crossing point needs to be provided with (low maintenance) guard rails and tactile paving etc, which will tend to control / guide pedestrian movement, and allow for the safety of pedestrians. (i.e. prevent young children from running across the street).
The Local Area Plan states: “It is the policy of the Council to increase the number of formal permanent pedestrian (zebra) crossing points at the schools and on the Main Street” P2.5.6
It is suggested that dedicated cycle lanes be provided along both sides of Main Street / Edward Street, this would encourage a healthier lifestyle, provide a safe route to schools, and significantly reduce the vehicular traffic in the town centre.
We suggest that the Council carry out a study in the town to investigate the possibility of incorporating cycle lanes along each main route.
If additional cycle lanes were to be provided, they would further benefit from the provision of bicycle parking bays.
The Local Area Plan states: “It is the policy of the Council to facilitate and encourage cycling and walking as a more convenient, popular and safe method of transport” P2.5.4
The hackney / taxi bases are sited in a haphazard manner along Main Street / Edward Street. Consideration should be given to the possibility of providing a 24 hour Taxi Rank within the town centre area, as this would better cater for the growing population, and shoppers using the town centre area. Would a location adjacent to the Town Hall be feasible?
Consider redesign and rejuvenation of pedestrian paths, providing a quality finish such as the granite paving and kerbing used in Naas. The aim here is to provide a safe and accessible surface for shoppers and residents, considering the needs of the visually impaired, parents with buggies, wheelchair users etc.
It would be important to standardise the materials and colour schemes used in paving materials. Additionally consideration must be given to the tendency of paths to slope somewhat dramatically at some specific locations (i.e. The Eyre Powell). Paths should be level where possible, as this would provide a safer route for pedestrians.
Bus-stops / Bus shelters:
The positioning of the existing bus stops should be reviewed to establish if they are located in the most optimum of locations, and facilitating an effective bus service. Currently we understand that there are three services serving the town, CIE, the Local Bus, and the Aircoach Service. At present each provider has a separate bus-stop “pole” in the path. This proliferation of poles adds to the general visual clutter, and is a further obstruction on the footpaths. Could these various company poles / signs be amalgamated into one pole with a generic “Bus Stop” sign?
The bus shelters should be standardised throughout the town, the newly installed bus shelter at Moorefield Park is an attractive structure and other bus shelters should be upgraded to this modern design, including the provision of tactile paving as required. Additionally there appears to be an area on the roof of the shelter onto which a generic “Bus Stop” sign could be placed, thus eliminating the old style poles from the footpath.
Bus stops have been positioned in several locations for mainly historical reasons, and the traffic flow has over the years increased dramatically, and the nature of the traffic has altered significantly over the years.
Consider provision of “off street” bus stops, as this would ensure better traffic flow. The locating of a bus stop at busy intersections (such as the one at Bord na Mona) can lead to traffic congestion, as two lanes of other vehicles have to pass the parked bus at this location.
We have already suggested upgrading the Bus-shelters, we are also suggesting that addition seating be provided, and the older litter bins be removed. All street furniture should be of a high quality design, (as are the new litter bins), with seating located both singly and in clusters providing a passive recreational space for shoppers, residents and those who just want to meet and chat.
A programme of cleaning street furniture needs to be considered. Where railings are provided (at crossing points etc.) the design should ensure that they are “maintenance free” in so far as is possible. The railings at the schools on the Naas Road or at the Credit Union pedestrian crossing for example would need to be re-painted annually to maintain their appearance, long term savings would be achieved by replacing these railings with low maintenance railings.
There are a number of fine examples of public sculpture in the towns environs, I refer specifically to the “Raised Spirit” (KCC), St. Conleth’s Garden (Parish Council), The Dominican College, Newbridge Silverware, and “Hands” (IDA Business Park). However it is our opinion that more pieces of public sculpture would greatly enhance the appearance of the town centre, adding to both the residential and business environment.
Kildare County Council replaced a significant number of unattractive street signs in the vicinity of the bridge two years ago, and this approach is to be welcomed. However some of the other signage which was removed was soon replaced, and now there are clusters of irregularly shaped directional signs of varying designs re-appearing around the town.
Many of these signs tend to obscure other signs, thereby eliminating their effectiveness. Indeed some of the signs are positioned so low that they are a danger to pedestrians. We notice that some of the businesses being advertised are no longer trading in the town. Additionally sign posts can pose an obstruction on footpaths which are a danger to visually impaired persons etc.
On a positive note the new street name signs are of a quality design, could this design be adopted by KCC Planning Section, and its use made a condition of planning (this would result in some consistency in signage at no cost to the Council).
There is an obvious need to review and implement a comprehensive policy regarding signage in the town. This policy must cater for business, shoppers, and the general appearance of the streetscape. Signage should be designed to assist shoppers, pedestrians and business needs, and unsympathetic or excessive signage should be discouraged.
The Local Area Plan states that it is an objective of the Council to “strictly control advertising and seek to remove existing established signage and advertising hoardings (in particular neon and plastic signs) which are visually obtrusive or out of scale with the character of the town centre”. O3.10.5
Consider promoting a “continental” look by permitting the provision of tables & chairs outside cafes etc. Some premises such as Edward Harrigan's, Bradbury’s, Café Continental, and the Whitewater Café are already engaging in this type of marketing.
Where these facilities can be provided without obstructing the footpaths, it would be of significant benefit to both shoppers and the businesses alike.
Town Hall Car Park:
The condition of the landscaping in the Town Hall car park needs to be addressed, the “islands” where some trees are planted need to be reviewed and re-landscaped (low-maintenance landscaping is preferable in this location).
There is a need to review existing landscaping; this requires replacement of some “unsuitable” trees, and the introduction of new trees to “soften” the streetscape. Trees should be provided with a grid base (as at the Riverbank Arts Centre) which will prevent the trees lifting the footpath close to the tree-trunk. Careful selection and planting of tree species will ensure no damage is caused to footpaths.
The Local Area Plan states: “The Council will ensure roads, pedestrian and cycle routes are appropriately landscaped and maintained to a high standard.” P2.6.5
An attractively landscaped streetscape will improve the ambiance of the street, and encourage shoppers and residents to make more use of the town centre, and to remain in the town centre, giving existing businesses opportunities to increase trade, and encouraging new quality business to locate on the Main Street / Edward Street axis.
The Local Area Plan states that “It is the Policy of the Council to promote the town centre as a residential, retail commercial and service location” 2.7.1b
Consideration should also be given to creating some permanent flower and shrub areas within the town centre to soften the look of the street.
There is a need to investigate the possibility of developing a town centre “civic open space”. Some suggested locations are:
- The area leading from the Town Hall / Bord na Móna / Post Office on the Southern side of the Main Street. A plaza / civic space would give the town a “focus / centre”, and eliminate the “one long straight street image” that the Main Street has at present.
- The area leading from the Town Hall via a pedestrian crossing to Georges Street, would also provide a focal point for the town particularly if the Town Hall is developed as proposed by the Town Council.
- Another suggested area is the area adjacent to the public toilets, where at the loss of a few parking spaces a nice focal point could be developed in the centre of Main Street.
The Local Area Plan states: “The provision of attractive recreational open space is an essential component of the Council’s vision of developing Droichead Nua. The quality and location of such space is as important as the quantity. The most effective open spaces are large, multi - purpose, informally supervised parks, preferably fronted by houses. The Council aspires to the establishment of a parks department to develop and maintain public open spaces within the county.” 2.6.3
The vast majority of Businesses are proactive in regard to the appearance and upkeep of their shop-fronts. We would suggest that a programme be initiated to encourage further improvement in shop-fronts in order to attract more quality businesses to Main Street / Edward Street.
It would be important to continue to encourage existing shops to retain (and maintain) traditional shop-fronts, upgrade their shop-fronts by improving lighting at night (a number of businesses have done this over the last two years to great effect), and eliminate outside “security” shuttering. Modern “internal” security shuttering, provides security without giving the appearance of “closed for the night” look to business premises. An attractive well maintained shop front will attract shoppers, and enhance the living space for those who live in the town centre area.
High quality shop fronts will tend to promote the town as a retail centre of excellence. Night lighting will discourage anti-social behaviour, and will attract those who like to “take a walk” on the street after business hours to the window displaying the goods for sale. (Many people are working long hours by day, and their only opportunity to “window shop” is provided outside business hours, and this will encourage shoppers to “call back” during normal business hours.)
The pedestrian environment should be closely associated with active frontages at street level and there should be an appropriate intensity of use in all areas at all times.
This discussion document is designed to provide an opportunity to debate what is required to rejuvenate Main Street / Edward Street. A plan should be drawn up, costed and implemented on a with defined commencement / completion dates.
This area borders the area which the local area plan suggests rejuvenation is required and the Local Area Plan states: “A portion of the town centre, between Cutlery Road, and the river has been identified as the subject of an Action Area Plan. The aim of this plan will be to draw up a framework identifying the appropriate urban form its redevelopment should take” Section 1.11.1
It is for the Council, in consultation the Town Council, the local community - both residential and commercial, to develop a plan for the future development of Main Street / Edward Street, and once this plan has been developed, to ensure that any developments within the curtilage of the plan area be followed precisely as decided by the council in advance.
Any new urban development or improvements should be capable of adaptation over time to meet changing needs and to promote the continued use of existing resources, including the built environment, civic spaces etc.
This discussion document has by its nature concentrated on the development of Main Street / Edward Street. The Athgarvan Road (Newbridge Inner Relief Road) is currently being developed and landscaped from the Bridge to Moorefield Road. The Cutlery Road is being improved, and we are aware that the element of dereliction existing in this area is being addressed by the Council. We would also welcome the on-going upgrading of the public green area / urban parkland at Moorefield Park, including under grounding of utilities, and look forward to its completion.
However the future development of the town also includes a requirement to address issues which are apparent on other streets in the town, and it will be essential that a plan be prepared also to rejuvenate the other main arteries in Newbridge, Eyre Street / Henry Street / Charlotte St. and the myriad of streets which connect these streets to and from the Main Street / Edward Street areas. In its totality the town now extends from the Buckley’s Cross to the Curragh Roundabout, from the Motorway to beyond the Railway, and a consistent, imaginative approach needs to be taken to address the future development of this ever expanding urban area.
Thank you for considering this discussion document, and we look forward to a constructive debate on its contents.
If you have any suggestions or comments please email us at Newbridge Tidy Towns Association
2013 Development Proposals George's Street Environs - 2012 Newbridge Health Check Report - 2007 Town Centre Action Area Plan - 2006 Opening a Vista on the Liffey - 2005 Forum on Newbridge Town Centre Streetscape - Regeneration of Main Street / Edward Street - 2003 Protecting the Liffey Linear Park