A Group of business people who trade in the Market Lane area of Westport are advancing plans to turn the area into a sustainable living hub, while also looking at the possibility of roofing part of the area to give it a more cosmopolitan feel.
Five of the group addressed councillors at last week’s sitting of Westport Town Council with a view to informing the council of their plans and to seek advice and direction as to how the Council can be of use to them.
Horticulturist Paula Cannon said the group felt Market Lane needed revitalisation and they felt this could be done by making the area a vibrant green, residential sustainable hub.
Architect David Le Mansey then went through a detailed presentation of the proposals. He stated that Market Lane consisted of an area with approximately 20 shops and apartments, which was the largest in the town centre area.
While putting together this proposal, the group had noted some problems the area currently faced such as the public lighting which was not satisfactory, particularly in winter.
It was planned to make the whole area more energy efficient and to use green matting to give the area a more environmentally friendly look.
Mr Le Mansey added that a permanent cover for the lane would obviously benefit the area due to the unpredictable nature of the weather and this in turn with create a café culture similar to European cities and also create a better atmosphere for shopping.
Mr Peter Krahenduhl, an American native now living in Westport, who had worked in the sustainability industry, said Westport had a great opportunity to adopt the sustainability model and to use this to its advantage in the tourism sector.
The success of the Greenway in the town had shown that there was a huge appetite our there at the moment for sustainable living and Market Lane had the potential to become a hub for this.
All of the councillors were fulsome in their praise of the plan, with Cllr Tereasa McGuire stating that it was very heartening to see people coming together and making a serious effort to move the town forward.
Cllr Myles Staunton said the presentation had shown that the group was ‘thinking outside the box’ while Cllr Brendan Mulroy said there was much ‘food for thought’ in the plan and it should be kept to the forefront of the council’s thinking.
Mr David Whelan, responding to a question from Cllr Margaret Adams, said the group was delighted to hear positive feedback and in general they now hoped to begin advancing plans. Mr Le Mansey added that the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) were currently planning to work with six chosen communities on specific projects and he said it would be great if the group could work with the council in lodging an application.
Responding to a query from Cllr Michael McLoughlin about the problems of advancing plans when some of the buildings in the area were privately owned, Mr Le Mansey said that they would have to seek guidance from the council on issues such as that.
Town Manager, Mr Joe Beirne, said there was a fundamental problem in the Market Lane area due to the fact that the council had not taken the area in charge as the developer who built up the area was no longer in business. He said for that reason the council could not promise the group anything at present.