Project Carlow 2040 is an ambitious Regeneration Strategy for Carlow Town. This Regeneration Strategy contains transformational and aspiring ideas for the economic, social and environmental benefit of Carlow. In this document, plans for the future of Carlow Town are outlined alongside objectives setting out how it is intended to achieve these, with some ambitious improvements proposed for the Town Centre. This Regeneration Strategy includes a number of Interventions envisaged for Carlow Town which will have a central role in delivering the objectives outlined in the Strategy over the next 20 years.
In line with the National Planning framework (NPF) and the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Southern Region, where Carlow is identified as a Key Town, this Strategy is innovative and offers a sustainable approach to urban regeneration which has been tailored for Carlow Town. Through the implementation of this Strategy and its individual elements, it will improve health and wellbeing, create better town centre spaces, enhance competitiveness and commercial activity, encourage town centre living and encourage building enhancements in order to improve the long term viability of Carlow.
The long-term vision of this Regeneration Strategy is to transform Carlow Town into a regional powerhouse of sustainable economic growth that will offer business opportunities and a better quality of life for all. Carlow Town will become a centre for education, cutting edge business, high quality retailing and a Town that prioritises the wellbeing of its visitors and residents. Carlow Town has the potential to become an innovative, ambitious and successful place.
Carlow Town is strategically located in the South-East Region and has a pivotal role with strong links to the Midlands and the Greater Dublin Area, supported by good access to transport infrastructure. Carlow is a regional centre for education, healthcare, public services, shopping and arts, culture, leisure and recreation for a wide area extending into Laois, Kildare and Wicklow. The aforementioned strategic vision has been central to the development of this Regeneration Strategy and the objectives and Interventions outlined within it. Each Intervention incorporates key ideas locally within each area, while being aware of the part each Intervention will play in the broader Regeneration Strategy for the Town. There are six Interventions identified in this Strategy.
The Intervention Areas were informed by extensive public consultation and consist of:
- Town Centre - Potato Market and Barrack Street
- Cultural Quarter (including links to the Railway Station)
- The Barrow Track / Civic Spine
- The Pembroke District
- The Burren Riverfront
- Link Streets (Dublin Street and Tullow Street)
In order to achieve the vision of this Regeneration Strategy for Carlow to be a more innovative, ambitious and successful place, collaborations between the private sector and the public sector need to be encouraged. The active involvement by key stakeholders and strategic partners in the regeneration of the Town Centre will be critical for its success.
This Strategy is set out over six sections incorporating the public consultation process undertaken to date, a regeneration action plan over four core themes and the urban design and implementation strategy envisaged.
The geographical position of Carlow Town, as the gateway to the south, is one of many reasons why companies seek to locate here. It has a diverse range of notationally recognised brands and local independent retailers offering customers an attractive experience and choice.
Historically, Carlow has been known to be home to large companies such as the likes of the Carlow Sugar Factory, which, alongside its sister company Erin Foods, employed 1,800 people in Carlow at its peak. The Sugar Factory was committed to the upskilling and education of its workers which has left a lasting skill base and a wealth of entrepreneurs in the Town. The factory closed in 2005 after 79 years in operation, but left in its wake a plethora of small industries which have developed and are located in the Town such as Burnside Autocyl and MSD.
Today, Carlow is home to leaders in Technology and Innovation, Engineering, Pharmaceutical, Internationally traded services and Retail Enterprises. Carlow Town has a developed balanced infrastructure, designed to create an
environment where residents and visitors have access to a variety of services, which include world class artistic and cultural spaces, traditional social infrastructure, quality parks and walks.
Carlow Town enables ambition, innovation and success to meet, resulting in Carlow becoming a location that many businesses have chosen to call home.
6 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT CARLOWS REGENERATION STRATEGY
1. Focus on Health & Wellbeing
The creation and maintenance of a healthy public realm for Carlow is essential to the achievement of a thriving, vibrant, sustainable and attractive Town Centre that everyone can enjoy and take pride in. The places where we live and work have a significant impact on people’s health and wellbeing and this Strategy seeks to identify ways of putting health and wellbeing in the heart of Carlow Town. Since Carlow County Council began the preparation of the Regeneration Strategy for Carlow Town in 2019, Health & Wellbeing has been a main priority area for all future development projects in the Town Centre.
One of the key issues affecting population growth in Carlow is the Town’s capacity to retain its younger population. Approximately 61% of people in third level education from the South East Region study outside the region and between 2011 and 2016 there was a decrease in the population of Carlow Town in the 20-34 age group of nearly 900 people. Going forward, it will be critical for Carlow to retain a greater proportion of people in this age group. An expanded third level offer combined with improved career prospects and opportunities for living in the Town will help Carlow to compete with other locations.
Carlow already has the advantage of being home to two third level institutes: Carlow College and the Institute of Technology Carlow (IT Carlow). These recently received funding for their collaborative consolidation project, which aims to enhance the provision of a first class educational experience for students in Carlow. This Strategy will act to support and enhance the strategic partnership between Carlow College and IT Carlow. Through improvements in the public realm, significantly enhancing connections between public transport, the Town Centre and educational facilities, as well as generally enhancing the attractiveness of the Town Centre, this Strategy seeks to not only attract new students to the Town but also to entice existing students to stay.
3. Takes space back into the public realm
In the first instance, Carlow County Council plan to deliver more public space, with the aim to encourage more people to spend more time outdoors. Carlow County Council also plans to make public space more responsive to the needs of those who use it. This Strategy seeks to provide plentiful, accessible and exciting public spaces in Carlow Town that are filled with people all day and all year round, providing a fundamental element of urban life. Extended and new riverside pedestrian routes, open spaces, and activities all connected by greatly improved pedestrian/cyclist networks will support this concept alongside a focus on green infrastructure, where Carlow will seek to find economic opportunities in the greening process. Overall, improving the quality and enhancing the accessibility to public open spaces will result in multiple benefits including health and wellbeing as well as sustainable transport, biodiversity and recreation.
4. Focus on the Town Centre
As part of this Strategy, it is sought to reinforce the critical role of the Town Centre as the heart of Carlow. The Town Centre will become a destination not just for shopping but for many activities, with a focus for visitors and tourists, taking in the unique architectural, cultural and heritage attributes of Carlow’s townscape. Additionally, this Strategy will support the concept of increased residential density in the Town Centre which will support not only retailers, but a host of other amenities including retail services, restaurants, leisure and arts, providing more activity throughout the day and ensuring passive surveillance.
Carlow has an important relationship with the Arts which forms a key part of the Town’s identity and can be further developed as an asset and attractor. Through the promotion of public art, there are opportunities to improve the public realm and create a more distinctive place. This strategy proposes bringing a new emphasis to the town centre by the regeneration of its core. We will achieve this by a renewed focus on better integrating existing elements of Carlow’s urban fabric to provide new opportunists for growth and public interaction.
5. Links educational, public transport and amenity features
Improving the connections between key retail, recreational, educational and civic spaces in Carlow Town will entice people to spend more time in a vibrant and modern Town Centre. Providing more sustainable forms of movement around the Town will result in people choosing to leave their cars at home and instead choose active modes of travel. As such, this Strategy seeks to act as a catalyst for a number of benefits for the Town Centre which will emerge on foot of the Interventions proposed.
This Strategy includes Interventions which will afford people the chance to walk between key Town Centre locations such as Potato Market through to the Fairgreen Shopping Centre and from the Train Station to the River Barrow. Pedestrian access to the Train Station and Bus Routes (national and regional) from the Town Core will be enhanced and new/enhanced pedestrian/cyclist linkages will benefit from way-finding and good lighting, resulting in an environment which is appealing for pedestrians. Furthermore, new connected public open spaces in the Town Centre will incorporate green and blue infrastructure throughout, providing an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, support more active modes of transport and provide a better quality environment for social use.
Carlow will, by becoming more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly and stitching the River Barrow and River Burrin back into the Town Centre, connect people to a range of services, jobs, education and other essential daily needs through sustainable transport methods. Taken alongside improvements in public transport connections, it is envisaged that most residents of Carlow Town could meet their daily travel needs without a car.
6. Enhances the economic activity
The Strategy seeks to implement innovative initiatives that will contribute to Carlow’s growing economy in a sustainable way. It is anticipated that the Strategy will result in improvements to the local economy and quality of life, supporting increased population growth. The Strategy provides for enhanced economic activity, for employment and greater community activity, as well as innovative forms of new residential developments. The
Strategy will also support the regeneration of a number of existing underutilised/vacant sites strategically located within the Town Centre, with their development providing the opportunity to not only deliver new uses such as employment, community, and residential, but to enhance permeability within the Town, link uses and spaces and create a definable Town Core.
Carlow County Council owns a significant land bank within the Town Centre, including the row of terrace houses on Barrack Street, the former Bank of Ireland site on the Athy Road and the former Cash & Carry site on Kennedy Street. These sites, along with other key Town Centre sites, present major opportunities to decrease vacancy levels and bring back into active use currently underutilised areas of the Town Centre. Carlow County Council have already utilised funding streams such as the Rebuilding Ireland Capital Works Management Framework under which they have applied for funding to refurbish the 7 no. derelict houses on Barrack Street for Social Housing as well as the URDF to undertake significant work within the Town Core Intervention in this Strategy. Other strategic sites can be used to leverage private investment as well as facilitating community uses and upgrades to the public realm.
Furthermore, Carlow Town is well positioned to attract an increasing number of businesses operating in the field of building innovation and development and the manufacture of construction materials. There is an opportunity for partnerships to be created between the third level institutes of the town, IT Carlow and Carlow College, and the existing future manufacturing related companies, to develop Carlow as a centre of excellence in the field of emerging construction technologies.