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Tipperary town businesses overwhelmingly (85%) support N24 traffic being diverted around the town, according to a new poll published today (01.09.21). In reply to the question “What improvements would you make to Tipperary Town centre?”, 26% of respondents were specifically in favour of a bypass.

Findings also show that four out of five businesses in the town have seen their profits fall during the COVID-19 pandemic. For almost three out of ten business owners, this has meant a decline in turnover and profitability of more than 50%.

The landmark research was conducted in June 2021 by Red C Research on behalf of The Heritage Council and Tipperary Town Chamber, as part of the Collaborative Town Centre Health Check (CTCHC) Programme. A total of 61 Tipperary Town businesses took part in the survey, which reveals that derelict buildings, lack of investment, and traffic problems, are key concerns for the business community, preparing a fightback against the COVID pandemic.

The sector says several issues need to be addressed:

  • One in three respondents reported traffic congestion as their first impression of the town.
  • Vacant structures (23%) and business closures (16%) were also cited as key issues.
  • Re-purposing derelict buildings was identified as a priority area for improvement by nearly half of respondents (43%).

Despite these challenges, more than half of those surveyed believe trading will improve over the next two years (55%), while one in eight suggests it will get worse. Increased consumer spending is the largest driver of optimism.

Just over half of respondents maintain the town lacks sufficient amenities for families (51%). Some 74% of respondents would like to see more playgrounds and 42% would like to see more activities for families.

Music festivals (38%) and street performances (34%) are the favoured way to attract more visitors, according to the findings.

Overall, two-thirds of businesses now believe that the volume of traffic in the town centre is harmful to their business.

A total of 64% believe Limerick City is Tipperary Town’s greatest commercial competitor, as well as Clonmel (20%) and Cashel (15%).

Dining out (34%) or visiting the Excel Centre (41%) are the top two attractions for tourists to Tipperary Town. Outdoor activities such as walking trails (21%), the hills of Tipperary (20%) and the Glen of Aherlow (25%) also feature prominently.

Most businesses in the town have on online presence. However, one in three does not have a website. Activity on social media is higher, with Facebook (75%) being the most popular channel.

The full findings from the Red C Research Report can be found on the Heritage Council website.

The Collaborative Town Centre Health Check (CTCHC) is a key strategic programme run by The Heritage Council. It is included in the Programme for Government and has a waiting list of over 40 towns. The programme aims to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation of the critical role that historic town centres play in the lives of residents and visitors alike. The findings from this CTCHC report will help to inform investment decisions for the future management and revitalisation of the historic town centre.

This first-ever business survey for Tipperary Town is Step 4 in the 15-Step CTCHC process.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, TD, said: “The community in Tipperary town has responded to the challenge facing many Irish towns in a proactive and creative way.

“By engaging in the CTCHC template with The Heritage Council, they now have the vital data that they need to re-imagine and to co-create a shared vision towards the heritage-led regeneration of this important town. It is through sustained collaborative actions that the town will once again become vibrant and vital and be a fun, inclusive place for social, economic and cultural engagement.”

Virginia Teehan, chief executive of the Heritage Council, added: “This collaborative process is fundamentally about how a town centre’s heritage informs our sense of place and belonging - things we rediscovered during the lockdown. The CTCHC Programme reminds us of how important our historic towns are.”

Speaking about the CTCHC programme, founding co-ordinator and Tipperary CTCHC project manager, Ali Harvey said: “Ireland’s town centres are unique, shared cultural spaces steeped in rich history with centuries of heritage in their streets, squares and buildings. The collaborative town centre health check process, which has been created by the Heritage Council and its partners, enables us to fully understand, track and monitor our historic environments by creating robust baseline data so that we can plan effectively for a sustainable future.”

Rita Fenton, Vice-Chair of Tipperary Town Chamber, added: “Tipperary Chamber looks forward to continued collaboration with all the stakeholders involved in this innovative project to maximise the opportunities for this historic market town, ensuring it continues to prosper and grow for the benefit of the county and the wider region.”

Councillor Annemarie Ryan said: “The partnerships that have been forged through this collaborative health check process have been hugely rewarding, helping generate a collective movement between all of the partners. In my role as a local authority councillor, I can see true, long-lasting change that is possible with the CTCHC Programme, and the outputs produced, including this much-valued baseline data.”

Michael Begley, Tipperary Town Revitalisation Taskforce Project Manager, said: “This was a truly unique baseline survey involving the town’s strategic partners that provide us with a great framework for taking stock of Tipperary Town’s many assets, including its inter-generational business sector. We must be equipped with this sort of data to build for the future.”

Media Contact: Mark O’Regan, Heritage Council, Tel: 085-8590378 / Joanne Ahern, DHR Communications, Tel: 087-9881837.