Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Competition and policy means nothing to the average shopper. They rightly demand the very best in retail whether inside our outside the city centre. They want choice and convenience and who would blame them. However the situation is more complex then this and policy is needed to regulate the market. The correct policy is one which strikes a balance between being overly protective on the one hand and allowing the market to go crazy on the other. And let’s face it, during the Celtic tiger years the market went crazy.
The retail policy of Waterford City Council is clear. It is a policy of sequential preference which protects the city centre first and foremost. However contrary to recent debate and commentary it does allow for what’s called ‘out of town’ shopping through a number of strategically placed District Centres. These include centres like the Hypermarket, Ardkeen, the Lisduggan Shopping centre, Poleberry and the Tesco Centre on the Dunmore Road. This is where the balance is achieved. However the failure to build a sufficient critical mass of retail in the city centre is the policy’s main fault line. The city centre is crying out for more top end retail and the council is desperate to see it happen. Site assembly is difficult but not impossible. The Brewery or New Street site would have worked if the developer had got it right from the beginning. The original proposal was so off the wall that it was always doomed to fail and played into the hands of those who would object to anything.
Holding the line on a worked out and sustainable policy is not easy. Overall the policy has not worked out as it intended due to site assembly and planning issues and over zealous developers. However there are a few tricks up the council’s sleeve. We may well see a scaled down but significant development in New Street yet. And we have the option of building out onto the river either side of the clock tower as part of the relocation of the House of Waterford Crystal. All is not perfect but all is not lost either.
Friday, August 6, 2010
It’s been a busy week. I started on Tuesday in Connolly Place in the City. The reaction was good but the issues were to be expected. People are worried about the economy, jobs, the next budget and generally making ends meet. Anti-social behaviour also featured with concerns raised regarding a number of boarded up houses. Several complaints were made about the quality of the remedial works in the area and having inspected the houses it is hard to disagree. Poor finishing and uncompleted works has left a sour taste in the mouths of many. In one house floor boards were used as skirting! I left feeling a little annoyed that the council had spent so much money and yet the works are not of the highest standard.
On Wednesday I visited Farron Park in the City and Portlaw in the county. The areas are different in many ways and yet the issues are the same. A lot of anger was vented towards the Government and people are genuinely worried about the future. I was struck by how many young people were out of work and how they felt they had no prospects for the future. Some talked about emigrating but I wondered how real an option it was for them. The monthly live register figures reinforced the magnitude of the problem – 452,000 people nationally out of work. So much for being out of recession!
Thursday brought me to Crook and Cheekpoint in Passage and Ballinroad in Dungarvan. In Crook and Cheekpoint the state of the roads and a decline in fishing dominated the doorstep conversations. I was completely taken aback as to how bad the roads actually are. On the entrance to one housing estate I counted seven potholes. An issue that emerged a lot was the need for a running water tap in the local graveyard and it puzzled me that local authorities often fall down on the small but important things.