Concern over the reduction in car parking spaces on Parnell Street in Clonmel, caused by ongoing road enhancement works, was raised at this month’s meeting of Clonmel Borough Council.
But council officials said that the issue would be addressed later in 2012 when a review is expected to take place that will amend the current laws governing loading bays on the street.
Major improvement works took place before Christmas, with more to follow in 2012, in a bid to improve the attractiveness of Parnell Street. This first phase of works, costing in the region of €170,000, was carried out under the Smarter Travel Initiative, funded by the Department of Transport, aims to improve the street, develop a more pedestrian-friendly area and promote cycling and walking. While councillors unanimously supported the work that has been done up to now, and approved the continuation of the scheme in 2012, they expressed a number of concerns, primarily about the reduction of car parking spaces on the street as a result and the impact that this would have on businesses. Their concerns echoed those of traders and business people on Parnell Street, some of whom made submissions in 2011 outlining their similar concerns to the Council.
There are currently 43 car parking spaces available on Parnell Street but as a result of the scheme three of these will be lost. However Clonmel Borough Council will review the Parking Bays Bye Laws in 2012 with a view to changing the parking restrictions regarding the three loading bays that currently exist on Parnell Street. These loading bays could potentially provide an additional seven car parking spaces.
Clonmel Borough Council propose to change the operational use of these loading bays, located outside Toymaster, Jervis Place and near the Credit Union, so that loading and unloading takes place at off-peak hours and that the loading bays be used for car parking during peak hours between 10am and 6pm.
But Cllr Billy Shoer said that some companies may need to use the loading bays between 10am and 6pm and he was anxious that drivers might be fined for using the space during regular business hours.
Cllr Joe Leahy also expressed concern, saying that if people park all day in a loading bay, then it fails to be a loading bay and asked, if trucks can’t use the spaces, where will they go?
Cllr Siobhan Ambrose said that she was glad that they would be looking at changing the regulations on loading bays. She said that perhaps in the past, three loading bays were needed there but not any longer.
Town engineer Jonathan Cooney said that this issue will be discussed by the Council in the coming months and it will also be subject to a period of public consultation. He said there could be a number of possible outcomes - all three loading bays could be used as parking spaces for all or part of the day; or two could be used for parking spaces while one remains a loading bay. The outcome will depend on the submissions received and further discussion by the Council.
It is hoped that the next part of the enhancement works will be completed in 2012 and will incorporate the upgrading of the junction on the Old Waterford Road with the Davis Road (where Tipp FM were formerly located), enhanced pedestrian crossing facilities and signals to improve traffic flow at that junction. At a cost of approximately €140,000 and funded by Clonmel Borough Council, work here will commence in the coming months.
Subsequently all existing overhead cables from the junction of Nelson Street to Anglesea Street will be under-grounded and this will also include the provision of decorative street lighting along a section of that street. This will cost a further €150,000 and will be funded by Clonmel Borough Council.
The final phase, subject to funding, will include the provision of paving, street furniture and landscaping elements.
Mr Cooney said that the enhancement works will create a link between Parnell Street and the Showgrounds Shopping Centre, creating easier access from one to the other. He also said that consideration had been given to the submissions received from traders on the street and a number of changes have been made: proposed restriction of parking at Jervis Place and pull-outs - concrete structures that jut out from the pavement - at College Avenue have both been eliminated in the final report, having regard to the traders on the street and their concerns about parking.
The proposed street furniture also raised concerns for some businesses, but town engineer Mr Cooney said that such seating should not pose any major problems. The furniture will comprise metal anti-skate bars and no back which should discourage people from lying or sitting on them for long periods of time. They are designed to discourage loitering but to provide a seating area for those who need it such as elderly people and those with prams or buggies. Clonmel gardai are also satisfied with the proposed seating. Parnell Street is also covered by CCTV which should discourage anti-social behaviour or loitering.
The addition of ‘pull-outs’ on the street has resulted in the loss of two parking spaces and these structures have been criticised by business people and councillors, particularly one which is located at the bottom of Parnell Street near Mack Cleaners.
Requests have been made for this structure, which has been designed as a flower bed - to be removed as it could create another parking space. But Mr. Cooney said that this structure is necessary to improve public safety at that junction.
He said that this flower bed defines the end of Parnell Street which improves pedestrian safety at that junction. He explained that when cars previously parked that far down on the street, the view of pedestrians crossing at that junction was hampered. Cars are expected not to park beyond the structure any longer and he said that the structure will not be removed.