THE STATE-SPONSORED Heritage Council and Kilkenny Archaeological Society have both given a qualified welcome to An Bord Pleanála’s decision calling for the medieval city’s central access route to be radically redesigned.
Kilkenny County Council had proposed an elevated cable-stayed bridge over the river Nore as part of the route, but the appeals board said it would be “inappropriate for this sensitive location within the historic core of Kilkenny”.
Although it accepted the principle of the road while rejecting extensions of the route to Loughmacask and the town’s western environs, the board said it should be redesigned as an “urban street”, integrated with the existing street network.
“It is considered that the route of Phase 1 of the proposed scheme is not appropriate as a major traffic artery or inner relief road because of the physical structures proposed and the additional traffic that would be attracted to traverse the city centre.”
Referring to the bridge, the board said this should be “appropriately designed . . . to integrate into and enhance its riverside context to take account of its sensitive location in views of Kilkenny Castle”. A revised environmental impact statement is also required.
Commenting on the planning board’s “provisional” decision, Heritage Council chief executive Michael Starrett said its bridge and road requirements “reflect and take account of the heritage issues and historic setting of Kilkenny”.
Kilkenny Archaeological Society, which had also opposed the original plans, said An Bord Pleanála had “almost entirely rejected the scheme and . . . there is no approval in place for the project”, which was condemned by archaeologists.
“This is a complex, nuanced and somewhat unusual decision, but it is clear that objections of the country’s heritage organisations have been entirely vindicated. In particular, the concept of an inner relief road as a major traffic artery being constructed through the oldest quarter of the walled city has also been rejected.”