Athlone will lose 13 car parking spaces but will gain bus parking spaces at the rear of the castle in an attempt to keep tourists in the town centre.
It follows a review of what the council deemed “inadequate” parking facilities for buses, with a total of just five bays at Grace Road, Golden Island Shopping Centre, and the Regional Sports Centre.
The castle site was chosen for the pedestrian link to the gallery and castle, the increased safety for passengers attending the castle because there is no passing traffic, and the space available for two large bus bays.
Options at Grace Park Road, Grace Road, and St Peter’s Square were considered but rejected for a variety of reasons.
Councillors are welcoming the plans, but expressed concerns at a reduction in parking for shoppers.
Director of services Barry Kehoe says there will be no new car parking spaces created to replace those being removed, but said the O’Connell Street car park is now open with 53 new spaces.
He said those being removed are hardly ever used, and at the moment are no great addition to the town.
Buses would facilitate more visitors than the thirteen spaces ever could, he said.
He said safety concerns in the area raised by Cllr Alan Shaw are unfounded, pointing out that tour buses are driven by professionals who are used to getting in and out of tight spaces.