Balbriggan’s Main Street and Harbour area look set for a massive transformation following a public survey taken by over 4,000 local people.
Over 25% of the local population aged over 11 took part in the Our Balbriggan survey to prioritise a list of suggested improvements for a €20m-plus transformation of the town.
Transforming the Main Street and connecting it to a reimagined Harbour area topped the board across all age groups in the public realm and placemaking pillar of the survey.
A Balbriggan leadership group, chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith, President, Dublin City University, had prepared suggestions for a €20million-plus rejuvenation plan – an ambitious new vision for the town, shaped by the views of its population.
“We couldn’t have dreamed of this level of response, with a huge section of the community getting involved to imagine the possibilities in a transformed Balbriggan,” said Professor MacCraith.
“Balbriggan as a community has come together with the group of stakeholders, led by Fingal County Council, to engage in a collaborative and unified way to prioritise the ideas which will best address the socio economic challenges of the town.
“When asked to name the thing that people most valued about Balbriggan, the five most popular words used were beach, community, people, sea and harbour
“By connecting all of these, and creating a properly functioning town centre, we can build a bright future in a town with fabulous assets and a diverse and rapidly-growing talent base.”
Given a menu of potential improvements, there was an overwhelming desire to redevelop the heart of the Main Street opening up the centre of the town to Millpond Park and the Bracken River, with new landscaped civic amenities
In addition to the suggested improvements put before the people of Balbriggan in the survey there was also an option to submit a different idea which could improve Our Balbriggan.
“We have listened to the extraordinary response of the community who got involved and had their say,” said Fingal County Council Chief Executive Paul Reid.
“An idea which strongly emerged in the survey results was the desire of the people of Balbriggan to have a swimming pool.
“In response to this, provision is being made for a swimming pool in the Castlelands Masterplan.
“What we need to do next is to work through the most effective models to deliver and manage such a fabulous facility for the town.
“This is a really exciting time for the town of Balbriggan and Fingal County Council and its partners are committed to delivering on commitments given to the community.”
73% of respondents placed Main Street in their top four choices, closely followed by 68% support for reimagining the harbour area to create an exciting, lively pier and waterfront, linking numerous leisure and tourism opportunities.
Slightly over half of respondents wanted to see Quay Street transformed so, in tandem with its current use, it can also be used as a multi-purpose plaza area with a linear park alongside the Bracken River.
The linear park would feature tiered seating for events, repurposing the Railway Viaduct arches into a vibrant market space, including redevelopment of the RNLI Boathouse
While the top two choices were consistent across all age groups, those under 25 favoured the reimagining the harbour area over redeveloping Main Street.
A Balbriggan Socio-Economic Strategy, which will be published in April, will contain an implementation plan with a list of actions, activities and accompanying timelines, directly influenced by the results of the Our Balbriggan survey.
Three of the local elected representatives on the Balbriggan Leadership Group, Cllr Grainne Maguire, Cllr Tony Murphy and Cllr Malachy Quinn issued a joint statement following the release of the survey results.
"We were delighted with the huge numbers who got involved and had their say in shaping the future of Our Balbriggan,” they said.
"We now have a strong set of priorities such as the redevelopment of the main street and reimagining the harbour which will transform the town, realising its full potential.
"In addition, we welcome the commitment of Fingal County Council to support the delivery of a long-standing aspiration of the community to have a swimming pool in the town."
About the survey:
A total of 4,001 people took part in the consultation survey – 35% of the respondents were aged between 35-44, 14% were under 24 and 13% were over 55.
87% of respondents live in Balbriggan, with 22% of them working in the town.
34% have been living in the town for over 21 years, 31% between 11 and 20 years and 21% for 10 years or less.
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%.