*Members of the Gort Town Team with officials from Galway County Council. 

GORT is “leading the way” as the first area in Galway to launch a town centre plan.

Over fifty people gathered with enthusiasm on Thursday afternoon in Gort Town Hall for the launch of the town centre plan which was compiled by Gort Town Team in association with Galway County Council.

Aims of the Government’s town centre first policy is to breathe new life into town centres by adapting to the changing world. Gort was one of 26 pilot towns to receive funding for the plan with a town regeneration officer appointed by Galway County Council to support and enable the Town Team plus to assist in its delivery.

26 projects are identified in the plan with projects looking at vacant and derelict buildings within Gort.

Chief Executive of Galway County Council, Liam Conneally remarked, “Gort is leading the way”. He continued, “during Covid a lot of things happened society, people and town centres they began to struggle from a business and vitality perspective”. This he emphasised underlined the importance of the Town Centre First Policy.

“It’s very special for me to be here, this is our first Town Centre plan in Galway,” the Ennistymon native outlined. He spoke of the importance of Gort as a retail and business centre for all of Galway and parts of Co Clare. “The plan has a central focus on improving the attractiveness of the town, embracing arts and culture, animating heritage and making more opportunities to enjoy the town centre”.

An expertise and flair for town centre planning was evident in the document, Conneally noted. “Sweat the asset,” he urged members of the Town Team to try push the plan to deliver the outcomes. “You are first out of the gate in Galway, from Galway County Council we will support you 100% for projects”.

He added, “once we can articulate what your ask is, all our team will make sure all applications for funding are right and we’ll try get more money into this town”. Leadership and ability was quite visible in the room, the Quin resident observed.

Town regeneration officer, Hazel Fox stated, “it gave us a body of information that identified projects that are a key priority for the local community to help it grow, regenerate and develop into the future”.

Bernice Forde Carolan who was the Town Champion on the Town Team explained that the plan was formed from all the feedback since public consultation began in January 2023. “We are trying to make the town a place that will be brighter and deliver something for the youth of the future”.

Director of Economic Development with Galway County Council, Liam Hanrahan described it as “a well put-together town centre plan” which was “testament to the Town Team and everybody’s work to have this document produced”. The challenge is to now secure funding from both Rural and Urban Regneration Development Funds.

Other documents such as the Gort local area plan will have to be studied in tandem with the plan, Hanrahan said. “Try tackle the deflection, there is a significant number of buildings around the town that we have mapped and identified, it will require some business intervention”. He concluded, “since the motorway the town has dramatically changed in its use, we have the opportunity to create more public realm”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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