Newbridge Town Hall Development Submission

Part 8, Article 81 Planning & Development Regulations 2001 – 2012

Works to Newbridge Town Hall, Main Street, Newbridge, Co. Kildare
Protected Structure RPS B23-40
Ms. Anne Greene,
Newbridge Town Clerk,
Kildare County Council,
Áras Chill Dara,
Devoy Park,
Naas,
Co. Kildare

Submission prepared on behalf of:
Newbridge Tidy Towns Association

Contact Details:
Email: newbridgetidytowns@gmail.com
Web: www.newbridgetidytowns.com

Background:

Newbridge Tidy Towns Association welcomes the publication of the Part 8 Proposals regarding the conservation and proposed works on Newbridge Town Hall, and the opportunity to respond to the proposals contained therein.

By way of introduction Newbridge Tidy Towns Association is a long established community group, and has the following general aims / objectives:

  1. To enhance the appearance of our town in a planned and co-ordinated way, making the town a more attractive place to live, work and enjoy the many recreational facilities available to the population;
  2. To raise awareness of local environmental issues among the residential, business and school-going community;
  3. To promote the environmental, community and historical assets of the town;
  4. To encourage Residents, Retailers, Business and Industrial concerns to maintain their estates and premises, and show them to best effect;
  5. To identify “black spots” and “problem areas”, and develop strategies to deal with them effectively;
  6. To address the topics included in the National Tidy Towns Competition, and address issues raised in the annual adjudication report;

Our input to this process is primarily from a community viewpoint, and having considered the Part 8 documentation and maps / drawings which have been on public display we wish to make the following submission, and wish you well in your deliberations.

Introduction:

We welcome the proposal to address the condition of the Town Hall, and hope that once the conservation, repair and other works are completed that the Town Hall could again become available for use both by the local authority, and the general community, making the Town Hall a vibrant resource located as it is in the most central part of the town.

We believe that one of the key areas which requires action in Newbridge is to the need address the many “underperforming” existing sites within the town area – some of which are derelict, some simply vacant commercial premises, or other brownfield sites. While it has taken many years of discussion and planning, by addressing the prominent, although semi-derelict Town Hall site, the Council are taking a lead which we hope will be followed by others in both the commercial and community sectors.

The quality of work carried out on the building itself is very important, and the specification / work-practice detail contained in the instructions outlined in de Balcam & Meagher’s conservation report (which we are interpreting as a list of the work to be carried out) is quite impressive, however we believe that of equal (and some would argue of more) importance is the quality of the hard and soft landscaping planned in association with the conservation work, as we believe this will ultimately set the standard for future refurbishment work outlined in the various “Design Briefs” outlined in the Draft Local Area Plan which is currently under discussion within the Council.

We believe that “public face” presented by Newbridge – in terms of the condition, maintenance and upkeep of roads, streets, footpaths, street furniture, advertising structures, on a daily basis to those who live, work, carry on business or visit the town is a very important factor which is critical to the on-going and future development of our town. As part of this “public face” we note that the concept of “dressing the street”, is becoming as important in retail areas as having an attractive window display, “dressing the street” not only improves the attractiveness of the retail / amenity space but also attracts attention and thus footfall, which is the lifeblood of business.

In that regard we hope that the Councils re-development will not shirk in its responsibility to pay particular attention to the issue of landscaping associated with this development and indeed with a future Part 8 which will be required to deal with the “Liffey View car- park” entrance (as noted on drawing A-3a). Ultimately we would hope that the aim is to “To create a more attractive, vibrant and consolidated town centre by utilising quality urban design principles that preserve and enhance the existing townscape character of the town centre” (Newbridge LAP 2013/2019 – UD 2).

This Part 8 proposal, and the earlier Part 8 proposal regarding the re-development of the “old folks” cottages on Liffey View, is we hope just some of the first steps in redesigning and rebuilding the town centre of Newbridge, which has been suggested in the Draft Newbridge LAP.

General Proposals (as published in public notice):

a) The demolition of the existing sheds and boundary wall to the south of the site, the demolition of the existing porch, boundary wall and railings to the north of the site;
b) The proposals include conservation works to the existing structure to include works to the roof, stone walling and windows and new services connections;
c) The proposals include the removal of all external paving and street furniture adjacent the town hall to be replaced with new stone paving and new lawns;
d) The proposals include the extension of the existing footpath to the north by 3m, the removal of 22 car-parking spaces and the replacement of 2 lamp standards;
e) The proposals include all necessary services, utility and associated site works.

In our submission, we have where possible referenced the numbered paragraph / sub-paragraph of the Part 8 documentation / drawing numbers, and “Conservation Report” alongside our comment or observation.

4.1 (Demolition) Internal works Drawing A-1 and A-2

It is proposed to:

A Take down the partition on grid line 2 along with partitions and mezzanine floors and partition between grid lines 1 and 2
B   Take off the plaster off all the internal wall surfaces
C Take down all the ceiling timbers suspended underneath the existing roof trusses.

We are unsure as to the extent of work to be carried out in the interior other than the significant works listed in A / B / C above. From the list of work above we cannot determine whether the work being proposed will result in the building being available for use either as a civic building, a community resource or function as a commercial / semi-commercial resource.

The General Proposals do not give any indication as to the future use or availability of the building.

  1. Will internal services be provided – electricity sockets, phone / communication ports, lighting, heating etc.?
  2. When work has been completed – will the building be fully functional and available to be occupied as a possible resource for the Council (possible civic office – one stop shop), commercial / semi commercial or community use?

4.1 (Demolition) External works Drawing A-1 & A-2:

E. We welcome the removal of the metal roofed shed, and associated structures.

F. We note that there are elements of plant possibly associated with the adjoining restaurant, described on Drawing A-3 as “Water tank & plant” and would have thought that these services would normally be located in an attic or roof position in most buildings.

Does the plant “overhang” Council property?

There is an audible “hum” from part of this equipment.

It would appear from the Part 8 proposals that the “Water tank & plant” will remain in situ, and given the demolition of the “metal roofed shed” which currently tends to hide these services from “general” view, there is a definite requirement to suitably and effectively “screen” these services to ensure that they are not visible or audible from a public place

G. We welcome the removal of the entrance porch adjacent to Bradbury’s, this porch has been quite unsightly and in very poor repair for some years now, and is not in keeping with the traditional appearance of the building.

I. This statement appears to imply that all services will be undergrounded, and we would welcome this, please ensure that no overground wiring or overground service provision is permitted.

K. We welcome the removal of the unsightly concrete ramp / railing from the west door, however we are unsure from the plans as to whether wheelchair access will be retained, we are strongly of the opinion that as a “civic building and civic space” (regardless as to its future use), that there is a critical requirement to ensure that wheelchair / disability access is maintained, to ensure that the building and its immediate surroundings continues to be accessible to all.

L. We welcome the opening up of the yard to the north, the removal of the walls and gates, and have made the assumption that when re-paved / lawned this area will be accessible to all.

M. The proposal to removal of bollards, signage and clutter which surrounds the Town Hall building is a very welcome, and in that regard we have three observations:

  1. We would however request that provision be made in the plan to re-instate the “Heritage Trail” signage erected by KCC as part of a heritage and arts trail – perhaps on a small plinth at the entrance, and we would ask that you seek the views of Ms. Bridget Loughlin – KCC Heritage Officer in this regard. (Please note that it will be Council policy to “To support the provision of appropriate signage along existing heritage and tourism walking routes in Newbridge”. (Newbridge LAP 2013 / 2019 – TM 7).
  2. The two seats located in front of the Town Hall have been refurbished during the Summer 2013, and are now therefore in very good condition, please consider re-instating these seats in front of the refurbished Town Hall. Alternatively our Association would like to see the seats relocated to another site within the town centre area, and not lost to the town.
  3. On inspecting Drawing A-1, we are assuming that the current parking bays (5.5 bays) are to be retained on Main Street, and that the parking signage / ticket dispenser will be relocated.

4.2 Windows:

A / G. We welcome the aspiration to restore the windows retaining as much of the original undamaged glass as is practical, and note that it is planned to “guard” the east window(s) thus protecting them from damage:

  1. Has “guarding” the other windows with toughened glass been considered?

4.3 Stone Repair / Gables:

A / F. We note the detailed instructions given regarding the cleaning and repair of existing stonework, and welcome the reinstatement of the ball (eastern gable) and new bellcote (western gable).

4.6 Planting (and Landscaping):

A / B. Shrub planting is proposed along both the eastern and western boundary – we would like to see some trees of native stock planted on these lawn areas.

E. It is planned to create fairly substantial lawn areas on both the Main Street (southern) & car-park (northern) sides of the Town Hall, and while the maintenance of the lawn is to be contracted for a 6 month period, what provision, if any, has been made for on-going cutting, maintenance and upkeep of the lawn area.

We welcome the statement that “the proposed landscaping works will enhance the buildings context and improve the urban environment of Newbridge town centre consistent with the objectives of the Newbridge Local Area Plan”, and look forward to seeing the finished work. (Outline Description – Section 3)

The decision to “re-landscape the surrounding area using high quality granite paving to provide a setting appropriate to the stature of Newbridge Town Hall as a public building in the centre of the town” is very much welcomed, as this will set the standard for future re-paving of the paths in Newbridge. (Outline Description – Section 4).

Please consider the following observations:

  1. Please consider retaining flagpoles (three), as this will be a “civic” building, it would be an ideal location to fly the national tricolour on appropriate occasions or to display flags of visiting delegations from twinned cities of Ocala & Bad Lippspringe.
  2. The proposals (PART 8 Outline Description–Section 6–Services) will include a new lighting scheme for the town hall exterior, we welcome the removal of the current ESB pole from the front (Main Street) side of the Town Hall (Drawing A-2), this is most desirable and welcome as if it was left in situ it would seriously detract from the appearance of the re-furbished building. If the “new lighting” designed for the exterior of the Town Hall is sufficiently robust it would / should provide for the “public street lighting” needs of this area.
  3. We are disappointed that there are no substantial trees included in the planned landscaping works. The inclusion of three semi mature trees (‘Trees with an overall height in excess of 4 metres and or a stem girth measurement circumference of 20 centimetres or larger) of native stock would tend to soften the landscape.
  4. We note that current seating (two seats) are to be removed, the current seats are of good quality and have been repaired and repainted this summer, we would be strongly of the opinion that to ensure that this area attains the status of a “civic space” that some seating be retained in the plans, but only on the Main Street (northerly) approaches, (which is subject to passive supervision), whereas the car-park (southerly) approach tends to be “hidden” from public view, and provision of seating in this location could lead to anti-social behaviour.

In the General Proposals (as advertised), we are unsure which type / quality of work will only be completed “subject to funding”, (referred to in Drawing A-3 as “Dotted line indicates Phase 2 works subject to funding”). If this is the case we would urgently request that this work be completed as part of the project, as we are of the opinion that if it is left uncompleted that it will detract significantly from the overall aims of the refurbishment project.

Services:

It is proposed to upgrade the existing services connections which will include a new gas connection (heating?) and a new electricity connection, please consider provision of undergrounded ducting for future telecommunications connections, our reasoning is as follows:

  1. It is probable that telecommunications services including landline telephone(s), televisual and broadband connectivity will be required in any future use whether for commercial, civic or community activities;
  2. In our opinion it would be better and more economical to provide ducting for these services at this “re-building” stage rather than a more expensive “retro-fitting” of services at a later date which would involve re-excavating footpaths, lawns etc.

Conclusion.

The Part 8 proposals for the Town Hall contain much to commend them. The conservation of Newbridge Town Hall together with the creation of a high quality public space in the centre of the town completed to a high standard is most welcome, and will enhance the general appearance of the town centre. However we have outlined some concerns which we have particularly in relation to undergrounding services, “soft” landscaping, public seating, and whether the interior of the building will be finished to a standard which will facilitate it’s immediate use as a resource in the town should a suitable use be identified – whether that be as a civic building, a community resource or as a commercial / semi-commercial resource.

We make this submission in a manner which we hope meets the spirit of the Part 8 proposals; we have limited our comments to the main issues which are of concern to us, and we wish the Councillors and Council Officials well in their deliberations, and look forward to receiving an opportunity to have further input (if needed / or for clarification) should the need arise, and the commencement of works on the site at the earliest opportunity.

For & on behalf of:

Newbridge Tidy Towns Association

Submitted on 27th August 2013

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Some Photos of the Town Hall prior to restoration / conservation:

Town Hall Before Restoration

Interior view of Town Hall prior to restoration

Town Hall Before Restoration

Interior view of access doorway to Town Hall

Town Hall Before Restoration

Town Hall Porch added in 1960’s which is to be removed.

Town Hall Before Restoration

Interior view of Town Hall ceiling prior to restoration

Town Hall Before Restoration

Exterior view of back of Town Hall prior to restoration – “lean-to” building to be demolished

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