*Photograph: John Mangan
Retail development, an enhanced town centre and securing a major multinational employer are just some of the aims emerging from the Ennis 2040 plan.
A total of twenty six actions have been identified as part of the strategic and spatial plan which serve as its targets and aspirations.
Actions include the establishment of an Ennis specific fund by using local authority assets such as land and funding sources to accelerate mixed residential and productive employment development by the private sector.
Creating a vibrant town centre through an enhanced public realm is another action. This will lead to changes in traffic management such as the restriction of movements from Abbey Street and Francis Street through O’Connell Street. This forms part of the ‘ten minute town’ concept.
Development of modern retail floorplates is earmarked as another action. In 2018, a total of 166 retail units were trading in the town centre representing 19 percent of the available ground floor units, the majority were located on O’Connell St (46%), Lower Market St (43%) and Parnell St (30%). Ground floor vacancy accounted for an estimated 16% of the overall units with 20% vacancy on O’Connell St, the town’s principal shopping street.
It is viewed as unlikely that a fully-fledged third level campus will establish in Ennis given its proximity to existing facilities in Limerick and Galway. Instead, the strategy outlines that there is scope to create an education quarter where facilities are co-located with access to shared services and a choice of learning in what it has coined a satellite third level presence.
As part of the plan, primary outcomes are coupled with each action. The potential to attract at least one large multinational employer by 2025 is a goal for the county town. An appropriate location, skill base, ability to attract talent to Ennis, suitable accommodation and infrastructure have been listed as the envisaged requirements to enable this investment.
Ludgate Hub located in West Cork is pinpointed as a model for Ennis to follow in trying to entice more remote workers to the area. The possibility of Ennis becoming a target location for app development is also stressed.