Tuesday 19 August 2008

Site for new town centre in Bray to be restored to car park, says council

BRAY TOWN Council has said its site for a new town centre is to be restored to a car park by November, following the decision of its joint venture partner Ballymore to stall the project.

The council, which has been working on the project with Ballymore for almost 13 years, said it now at least had "some certainty" over the immediate future of the site, which was partly compiled with the aid of compulsory purchase orders.

Bray town councillors had hoped to see a major development, to be known as the Florentine Centre, incorporating an anchor retail store, a new street, shops, offices and apartments.

Over the years, the site - which is accessed from Quinnsboro Road and Florence Road - grew to incorporate a number of buildings on the Main Street, some of which were demolished and others which are now boarded up.

As the site was being assembled, the main portion of it was used as a car park but in recent years it has been closed. Local traders have complained about the unsightly nature of a large trench around the perimeter.

Despite having secured final planning approval Ballymore announced last month that it was to proceed with just a portion of the development, a single store of 5,574 square metres. The company has also offered to build subject to the planning process, a multi-storey car park which would be jointly owned with the council.

Efforts to contact a spokeswoman for Ballymore yesterday were unsuccessful. However, Bray town clerk Christine Flood confirmed that following Ballymore's decision not to proceed immediately with major elements of the scheme, the car park would be restored in time for Christmas.

Ms Flood said the council and local traders had grave concerns about the lack of parking in the town over the years.

The new arrangement with Ballymore would "have some certainty and some positive effects" in that part of the centre would be built and parking would once more be available. "It is better to have something and some certainty," she said.

The new arrangements do not preclude Ballymore from developing the remaining elements of the scheme once the economy picks up again.

The Irish Times


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