PLANS An artist’s impression of Portwest’s proposed new offices at Roman Island, Westport Quay.
We are at a critical juncture in the determination of the future direction of the development of Westport. For the first time since the abolition of Westport Town Council, our local councillors will be asked to make a very major change to the zoning in the Development Plan to allow a significant part of Roman Island be developed in contravention of the Marine Related Tourism zoning.
I was member of the Council from 2005 to 2009 that originally designated the recreational zoning in the belief that Roman Island is a unique part of Westport which has changed from a commercial port in previous centuries to becoming a key driver of future tourism and recreation and amenity offering in Westport.
At the time, we envisaged a marina to the back of The Towers, a lido pool and beach in the vicinity of The Point and a circular walkway/cycle path around Roman Island.
Looking at the proposed zoning change we need, as a community, to seriously consider the following questions:
Is it now time to roll back the years and designate this the new commercial hub for Westport?
Is it now the time to dezone all of the industrial/commercial lands to the north and south of Westport and encourage all new and existing multinationals to relocate to The Quay?
Is it time to ask all boat owners and ferries to move to locations like Rosmoney or Roonagh so we can focus on a new commercial hub at the Quay? Is there the capacity at the Quay for this?
Is it time for Westport Heritage Centre, Westport Coastguard, casual walkers and swimmers to relocate to more suitable locations outside town to faciliate a new IFSC?
Over the years, we have seen extensive flooding at the Quay, with roads impassable and buildings flooded. Is it now safe to assume that global warming has passed and that these events are distant memories ?
We recently had the great news that the relief road between the Newport Road and Castlebar Road will commence next year as part of the new N5: Is it now time to include a new relief road from The Point through Westport House to link with the new relief road to ensure the hundreds of employees can safely and efficiently bypass our town?
Most matters that relate to any new proposed developments are determined by our Local Authority Planners. In this instance, the decison is determined by you, the people of the town/environs through the voice and by the decision of the seven county councillors in the West Mayo Municipal District.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the rezoning proposal, I am asking that you all make a submission to Mayo County Council by Wednesday, August 29. (Submissions can be sent to Mary Killoran Coyne, Development Management Section, Mayo County Council, Castlebar, Co Mayo, or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
It just needs to be a short statement stating your reason for agreeing or disagreeing with the proposal, so your local councillors are aware of your views and can make an informed decision.
Similar to any election, you can opt in and influence the decision or opt out and let others decide if we are ready to rename Westport Quay, Canary Wharf, Westport and whistle goodbye to our grand plans for marine tourism and recreational infrastructure at the Quay forever?
Peter Flynn is a former Westport town councillor and Mayo county councillor. A member of Fine Gael, he served on Westport Town Council from 1999-2009 and Mayo County Council from 2009-14.