Kilkenny city-centre could hold the key to our housing crisis, event hears
KILKENNY city-centre is a “huge untapped resource” to provide sustainable housing and accommodation for many more people and families, an event in the city has heard.
Cllr Malcolm Noonan outlined a series of innovative urban housing initiatives at the recent ‘Talk of the Town’ event which was held in the Pembroke Hotel.
He was joined at the talk by fellow Green colleagues, party leader Eamon Ryan, Senator Grace O’Sullivan and Etaoin Holohan; curator and owner of the award-winning Fennelly’s cafe in Callan.
They were due to be joined by Eco Eye Presenter and architect Duncan Stewart, but he was unable to attend after he was after he was injured in a cycling accident in Dublin.
At the event, Cllr Noonan outlined his plans to continue collaborating with partners on sustainable transport, developing a National Centre for Traditional Building Skills and local energy production.
Addressing the chronic shortage of local housing, Cllr Noonan said there are huge opportunities to provide sustainable housing in the city, which would revitalise neglected parts of the centre.
“The town centre could and should be the focus of our attention in providing quality, affordable and eco-friendly housing and accommodation over the next decade,” Cllr Noonan said.
“The brewery site, the old cash and carry site and the remaining undeveloped lands at the mart site could be developed as sustainable community and cooperative housing with a mix of private and social housing.
“We could accommodate many individuals and families by upgrading housing on the city’s lanes, above shops and bringing some vacant retail units back to full occupancy. This would maintain the viability of town centre shops, reduce car dependency and make for a more compact and environmentally friendly town centre.”
Cllr Noonan (pictured below with Green Party leader Eamon Ryan) said it is important to “dispel the myth” that town centre living is unattractive or just for short term renting.
He added: “It can and should be a place where children can grow up and thrive in just like they were in the past.”
Senator Grace O Sullivan spoke of her time as an environmental activist on board the Greenpeace Ship ‘Rainbow Warrior’ and how, back in the 1980’s, she saw the extent of marine pollution caused by plastic. She said this global activisim permeated local communities and that everyone matters in the climate debate.
Etaoin Holohan gave a interesting insight into her early days restoring and curating Fennelly’s in Callan as a space for civic engagement and participation, and how the former pub and butchers evolved into an award-winning café in a street with a lot of empty properties.
Lots of key local issues were raised during a lively exchange of views during a questions and answers session, such as rates increases and their impact on shops, car parking charges, frustration over public consultation on projects, loss of built heritage and littering and illegal dumping.
Speaking after the event, Cllr Noonan told KilkennyNow.ie: “It’s important that we learn from the mistakes of the past and collaboratively move forward with ideas, plans and projects that will safeguard and future proof our town centres.
“Kilkenny is not unique, it faces the same set of challenges that urban centres face around the world but the overarching consensus from this event is that we must all roll up our sleeves and work together to make the radical changes needed; in how we produce food, in how we get around, in how we use these important civic spaces and how we engage young people as critical activists for transformation.”