A masterplan for the Martyr’s Road side of Nengh was described as “inspiring” by Cllr Seamus Morris at Nenagh Municipal District Council.
The plan was unveiled by MurrayO’Laoire Consultants to the councillors and includes a mixed development for residential, commercial and education facilities on the 9.6 hectare site that borders O’Connor’s Supermarket, Sheehan’s yard and Abbey machinery. It also includes the friary.
“It is a fantastic plan with a lot of positives,” said Cllr Morris.
The plan was a guide and was not a development plan, Richard Rice of the consultants said.
“The site has opportunities and constraints,” he said. “It is a viable site that can attract interest from outside town.”
Hugh Murray, MurrayO’Laoire, said it was important to see the site as an “organic extension” of the town centre.
The plan would see eight pedestrian entrances to the current town centre from a core parking area, and Mr Murray revealed there was interest from two developers in the supermarket aspect of it as well as interest in a medical facility and an education centre.
Among the other suggested uses was for a new indoor sports facility and the suggestion that the car park could be used as a civic amenity for outdoor concerts and an outdoor cinema.
Despite saying it had a lot of positives, Cllr Morris warned: “It is going to be difficult to sell the idea because the people in the town will want to hold what they have.”
He was supported by Cllr Hughie McGrath who pointed out that the current town centre stakeholders were ratepayers.
Voicing concerns, he said that the O’Connors site had attracted no bids at a recent auction. “That tells you what people thought of the site.”
He was also concerned that the masterplan might put potential developers off if it was inflexible.
“At the end of the day, it’s somebody with a cheque book who will buy it and we don’t want to tie them down,” he said.
However, Mr Murray said there was flexibility in the plan, saying: “Something positive could happen here if everybody pulls together.”
Cllr Morris agreed with Cllr Ger Darcy that any plan would need to take account of truck movements around Arrabawn Co-Op at Kenyon Street. Cllr Michael O’Meara urged that the railway line be included in the plan as it could add to its advantage as a site.
Mr Rice said they had “not much feedback from Irish Rail” in relation to the plan. “The railway’s use has been compromised by the motorway.” The plan will go on public display from September 27 until October 6.