One way? No way - businesses object to Church Street proposal

An association of Church Street traders say the proposed westward one-way system currently up for public consultation does not adequately take into account the impact the decision will have on their turnover.

In a submission to Westmeath County Council, composed by Sean Lucy & Associates Town Planning Consultants, the association points to the effect the three-month trial of an eastern one-way system had in 2008, when they say turnover fell by between 18 and 25 per cent. They add that once the two-way system was resumed, “almost immediately the turnover rose again to pre-one-way levels”.

In reference to the current proposal, the association says the documentation provided with this planning application “is one-dimensional in nature in that it fails to consider the impact of a one-way system upon the retail, business, and residential sector who have invested their livelihoods in the premises on Church Street”.

Referring to the 2008 trial as a “failed experiment”, local concerns are heightened this time around in the knowledge that works undertaken will have an “irreversible impact”.

“Our clients are united in their belief that their businesses cannot withstand another, similarly devastating impact. The proposed Part 8 development has the potential to devastate the retail and business environment along Church Street. An 18 per cent drop in turnover would lead to reductions in overheads, job losses and no doubt the closure of some of the businesses along the street. The fact is that with high commercial rates and high rents many businesses could not withstand such a significant reduction in turnover,” the submission notes.

“The current proposal has failed to assess this impact in any comprehensive way and in the absence of any such assessment our clients cannot support any proposal for either a one-way system or pedestrianisation. It is our clients’ position that a two-way system must be maintained along Church Street if the street is to remain a viable, long-term, retail environment.”

The submission lists two options the traders of Church Street prefer in moving forward: either the council does not pass the resolution, or it passes it subject to the condition that the street remains open to traffic in both directions.

“Our clients are convinced, and the argument has considerable merit, that the creation of an enhanced pedestrian environment in conjunction with the existing two-way vehicular system can be achieved,” it reads.

Submissions on the proposed one-way system are being accepted up to Wednesday, February 1.

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