Planning permission granted for transformation of Balbriggan town centre

Fingal County Council has been given the go ahead for a €10 million transformation of the Balbriggan town centre which will deliver a unique public civic space in the heart of Ireland’s youngest town.

The proposed new public space is the first and largest signature project to be brought forward under the Council’s Our Balbriggan 2019-2025 Rejuvenation Plan. The multi-purpose plaza area and linear park is designed to host markets, events and festivals and to provide enhanced play, leisure and tourism opportunities in the town.

The approval by Councillors means revitalisation plans for the area will now move forward, with the re-development of the 19,300m2 site expected to commence in early 2024 and the works completed on a phased basis by the end of 2025.

Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Howard Mahony said: “This project will help transform the area into a much more people-oriented public space. Along with enhancing the appeal of the location, a new commercial building and two new kiosks will be built on the site of a former nightclub in the harbour area to accommodate visitor and leisure activities.”

The public realm redevelopment will see areas of Quay Street, Mill Street, Harbour Road and Balbriggan Harbour become an integrated space which links the town centre and River Bracken with the harbour.

The canalisation of the River Bracken will also be undertaken, opening it up as an amenity for residents and visitors to experience and enjoy. Broad steps will lead down to the water, which will feature increased planting, improved biodiversity and enhanced flood protection.

75% of the funding for the €10 million project will come from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, with the remainder financed from Fingal’s capital spending programme.

Professor Brian MacCraith, chair of the Our Balbriggan Leadership Group, said the development is the most significant step yet in the town’s rejuvenation plan.

“The granting of planning permission is wonderful news for Balbriggan and will help secure its future. Our consultations with the people of Balbriggan, clearly demonstrated support for reimagining the harbour area. The approved proposals will do just that, creating an exciting, lively pier and waterfront that will help link leisure and tourism opportunities in the town and significantly boost Balbriggan’s offering,”

He paid tribute to all who contributed to the public consultation process: “I am delighted that not only have we reflected the public’s view of the reimagining of the harbour area, but also that the feedback and local insight gleaned from the public consultation process was critical in progressing plans and is ultimately reflected in the project.”

AnnMarie Farrelly, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, welcomed the decision, saying: “This is a transformative project for Balbriggan town centre that will help create a more attractive, connected place where people will want to live and spend their time – be it for work, shopping, or recreation.

“We will now get the project out to tender as soon as possible so that we can meet our ambitions of having facilities available for community use on a phased basis by the end of 2025.”

The project will see the existing playground, green spaces and planting zones almost double in size and an increase in the tree coverage of the area. The existing play equipment will be repurposed and reused on the site and extended with the provision of additional play equipment - integrated into the flowing design of the public space.

Some 129 car parking spaces will be removed to provide enhanced space dedicated for the use of the citizens and visitors to Balbriggan and allowing for the enjoyment and safe use of the attractive space. Following public consultation, the Council has increased the number of car parking spaces to be retained from its original proposals.

Extensive surveys of the town’s car parking facilities have shown there is existing parking capacity to facilitate the removal of the car parking spaces at Quay Street. The Council will also be delivering additional car parking spaces at other locations around the town in other projects which will be delivered in parallel with the transformation of Quay Street.

An Active Travel Strategy for the town is in preparation for public consultation to consider the long-term plans for movement and connectivity in Balbriggan. As the Council progresses the various rejuvenation projects in Balbriggan over the coming years, we’ll continue to monitor the parking situation and make accommodations in those projects to ensure a balanced approach is taken to address the evolving needs of the town.

Low-level stone walls will be removed from the town’s viaduct to create a seamless flow through the pedestrian area linking the new public space to the reimagined harbour. The plan also preserves full access for working harbour traffic, while prioritising pedestrian access.

A new toilet block with changing facilities, lockers and a retail kiosk will be situated at the entrance to the beach by the railway viaduct and the former RNLI boathouse conserved and refurbished for commercial cafe/retail use.