Vitality of Dundalk’s Historic Core Measured by Partners in Collaborative Town Centre Health Check
The Dundalk CTCHC Summary Report 2019 will help to inform investment decisions for the future management and revitalisation of the historic town centre. The timing of the report for the historic Border Town is particularly important, given the pending Brexit in the autumn.
A summary report of the key findings of a major ‘health check’ assessing the strengths and opportunities of Dundalk’s Historic Town Centre has been launched today by the Heritage Council, Dundalk BIDS, Louth County Council, Louth County Museum, Dundalk Chamber, Dundalk Credit Union and Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT).
The 15-Step Health Check process measures people’s perceptions of the town’s commercial and cultural choices along with transport, parking and entertainment facilities. Both consumers and business people felt that Dundalk would benefit from an improved public realm, additional residential accommodation and further investment in the historic town’s unique built, cultural and natural heritage. The Dundalk CTCHC Summary Report 2019 will help to inform investment decisions for the future management and revitalisation of the historic town centre. The timing of the report for the historic Border Town is particularly important, given the pending Brexit in the autumn.
Speaking at the launch in Dundalk, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Mr. Damien English T.D. outlined “Town centres are more than bricks and mortar – they are the traditional heart and lifeblood of urban areas and their surrounding rural catchments. Project 2040 is committed to regenerating these special places in order that they will survive and thrive for current and future generations”.
Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of the Heritage Council emphasised that “Ireland’s Town Centres are steeped in history. The collaborative health check process, which has been championed by the Heritage Council and its partners, enables us to understand our unique historic environments so that we can plan effectively for their future.”
Martin McElligott, Dundalk Town Centre Commercial Manager, Dundalk BIDS, highlighted that “The partnerships that have been forged through this collaborative health check process have been hugely rewarding, helping generate a collective movement within all of the partners. For the first time in my role as Town Centre Commercial Manager, I can see true long-lasting change that is possible with the CTCHC Training Programme”.
Dundalk Collaborative Town Centre Health Check Report 2019 focuses on the survey results of a number of key indicators of the overall health of the town centre including: level of town centre activities, land use/commercial/cultural mix, pedestrian footfall patterns and business operators and consumers’ perceptions of the quality of the environment of the historic town.
The health check showed that:
- 58% of respondents were in Dundalk Town Centre to shop on the day the survey was undertaken
- 30% of respondents shop online at least once per month with 59% purchasing mostly clothing and accessories
- 41% would like to see extended opening hours in the historic town centre to 7pm every evening and 19% would like to see extended opening hours on a Friday evening until 9pm
- 81% think there is a good standard of service in shops in the town centre and 75% think there is a good range of events in the town centre
- Footfall in the town centre was 10% busier on a Friday than on a Saturday
- Just under two thirds of consumers believe that Brexit will have a negative impact on Dundalk Town Centre.
74% of the business respondents in Dundalk Town Centre feel that shopping, banks and businesses are the main thing that attracts people to the town centre. 50% expect trading to improve over the next two years and 50% think Brexit will have a negative impact on town centre businesses. 77% of business owners in the historic town centre do not currently sell online.
In September 2018, the Heritage Council, Dundalk BIDS and Dundalk IT, set up a town centre baseline project as part of the National Collaborative Town Centre Health Check (CTCHC) Training Programme, ably supported by various departments within Louth County Council, Dundalk Chamber and Dundalk Credit Union.
Ali Harvey, the Collaborative TCHC Training Programme Co-ordinator with the Heritage Council highlighted “The Dundalk project demonstrates the importance of having agreed, robust baseline data to inform decision-making and investment proposals for town centre renewal and revitalisation, particularly in relation to Border Towns that are facing an uncertain time. The collaborative efforts of the Project Partners, along with the wonderful ideas produced by the DkIT students, have been very rewarding. The innovative partnerships created and nurtured through the project bode well for the future of this wonderful historic, border town.”
Welcoming the Dundalk Collaborative Town Centre Health Check Report 2019, Frank Pentony, Director of Services, Louth County Council said the report was a positive and constructive basis on which Dundalk Town Centre can be further enhanced and promoted.
“This was a truly unique baseline survey involving the town’s key strategic partners that provides us with a great framework for taking stock of Dundalk’s many assets. We must be equipped with this sort of data to build for the future. As a border town, Dundalk is facing unchartered territory but has so much to offer, and this collaborative health check report will help us to enhance and maximise the quality of life for everyone in the town,” he said.
Dr Michael Mulvey, President of Dundalk Institute of Technology said: “DkIT looks forward to continued collaboration with all the stakeholders involved in this innovative project to maximise the opportunities for this historic trading town, ensuring it continues to prosper and grow for the benefit of Dundalk and the wider region.”
Billy Doyle, CEO Dundalk Credit Union highlighted that the report provides useful signposts for the future: “A healthy and vibrant historic town centre is important for everyone who lives, works and visits Dundalk.”
Brian Walsh, Heritage Council Board Member concluded “this collaborative process is fundamentally about how a town centre’s heritage informs our sense of identity, this is why the Heritage Council’s role is so pivotal. It reminds us of how important our town is in who we are, it is as important and as simple as that.”
Contact: Ali Harvey, M. 087 419 3458 firstname.lastname@example.org