The future of Balbriggan is set to be transformed through a €20million-plus rejuvenation plan - an ambitious new vision for the town, which will be shaped by the views of its population.
The wide-ranging plans include a new river park which will flow through new public areas in the town down to a reimagined harbour and marina and link up with a new greenway.
Balbriggan is the youngest town in Ireland, with an average age of 30.5, and has seen rapid population and housing growth without an equivalent rise in amenities.
Under the plan, Balbriggan has the chance to develop into a seaside town with fantastic amenities that will provide a sustainable future for its population.
And local residents are being asked to take part in an public consultation plan and survey entitled Our Balbriggan which will shape the order of priorities for a list of improvements to transform the town.
A Balbriggan leadership group, chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith, President, Dublin City University, was established earlier in the year to prepare ambitious plans for the area with actions that can be delivered upon.
“In a few years’ time the centre of the town will have been transformed with public amenities flowing from the River Bracken and the Millpond Park through Quay Street down to a completely reimagined Harbour which will be the envy of the country,” said Prof MacCraith.
“The transformation is already beginning, with free town centre Wi-Fi, new Skate Park and Heritage Trail just a few of the initiatives due to be unveiled in a short period of time.
“The Our Balbriggan survey will allow the people of the town to have a say in prioritising a range of improvements.
“At the moment, this town is missing a heart – a properly functioning town centre.
“This whole initiative is about creating an ambitious and prosperous future for Balbriggan that builds on all of its strong points – the physical assets, its fabulous beach, its location and its diverse and rapidly-growing talent base.
“By understanding the connectivity of all these assets in a smart way you can totally transform a town.”
A Balbriggan Socio-Economic Strategy, which will be published at the end of Q1 2019, will contain an implementation plan with a list of actions, activities and accompanying timeline, directly influenced by the results of the Our Balbriggan survey.
“A €10m capital fund allocated to support the Balbriggan Strategy over the next three years is a real and sustained commitment to the town and the people of the area have the opportunity to shape and influence the order of priorities,” said Fingal County Council Chief Executive Paul Reid.
“In addition to the €10million allocated for the implementation of the Balbriggan Strategy an additional capital sum, in excess of €10million, has also been allocated for the completion of the Balbriggan to Skerries Greenway, development of Bremore Castle into a premier visitor destination, development of Bremore Regional Amenity Park, and upgrades to cycle ways and connectivity in the town.
“The total cost of all public realm activities is likely to exceed the amount available, so choices may have to be made and which activity, the timescale and likely budget will be directly influenced by the results of the survey.
“But the plan goes much deeper than public spaces and amenities. It will involve every area of local lives – employment, education, skills, local economy and enterprise and community affairs and integration.
Balbriggan’s population of 24,611 has grown by 194% since 1991, compared to the national average of 35% and Fingal’s growth of 94%.
Its average age of 30.8 compares to 37 nationally, and 28% of residents were born outside Ireland, which is significantly higher than the national figure of 13%.