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*Photograph: Bob Singer.

Nine transformational sites have been identified as part of the Ennis 2040 plan.

Commissioned following the adaptation of the National Planning Framework (NPF) for 2040, Ennis 2040 is a spatial and economic plan for the county town. An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin (FF) has committed to launching the plan, a date for which has yet to be agreed.

Officials compiling the strategy have listed nine transformational sites in Ennis that are expected to undergo works as part of the plan. Major retail and hotel use has been suggested for what is aimed to become a revamped Cornmarket St while big commercial ideas are said to be in place for the riverside area of Abbey St.

Accessibility for pedestrians to the town is one of the goals for potential works at Harvey’s Quay and the Post Office Field. The construction of a multi-storey car park is listed as a possible use for Friar’s Walk. Residential, retail and commercial prospects are considered for the site of the former Ennis National School.

Development of a boardwalk, paths and cycle paths is envisaged for the Wetland and Enterprise Area in Clareabbey as a tourism attraction. The site of the Roche building is viewed as “an opportunity” with the Clare Technology Park deemed to be a potential location for future job creation. The final transformational site included in Ennis 2040 is the planned Ennis Data Centre.

Acting senior planner with Clare County Council, Helen Quinn explained that the “vision” from the project is to strengthen Ennis’ “role as a key regional economic driver and major tourist destination in the Mid-West through expansion and diversification of its economy. Its purpose is to guide the long-term development of Ennis and highlight opportunities that will deliver competitive advantages”.

“This is a piece of work that is two years in the making,” Director of Service, Liam Conneally stated. Speaking at an Economic Development SPC meeting, he outlined that Ennis 2040 “shows the confidence Ennis has in itself to put forward projects, hopefully some of which will be realised in the next 20 years”. The next County Development Plan will be influenced by the document, he stated. More information on the plan will be released in the coming weeks, Conneally hinted.

Cllr Pat Daly (FF) described the works as “an exciting project” and referenced the nine sites mentioned with particular praise for the walk from Ennis to Clareabbey. “The biggest problem in Ennis at the moment and I’m tired of talking about it is a lack of parking. We should be developing a multi-storey car park for staff members”. He believed the old Ennis National school building was the ideal location for this purpose.

Ennis Chamber representative, Pat Morris commented, “I hope it is not the next two or three months before the Taoiseach agrees to present it to us all”. He added, “It is the largest town from Donegal to Kerry, it is bigger than Tralee, Donegal and Sligo, it is also the second largest town in southern region behind Kilkenny. We need to focus on the strengths, this is a good step but we need to move quickly”.

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