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31/10/2018 Letterkenny’s Pulse Taken in First-ever Collaborative Town Centre Health Check

LK Queens Survey 2

Pictured at the launch yesterday were Donnan Harvey, Cathedral Quarter Group; Cllr. Ian McGarvey;  Laurie McGee, Cathedral Quarter Group; Cllr. Jimmy Kavanagh; Toni Forrester, Chamber of Commerce; Tarla MacGabhann, Macgabhann Architects; Liam Ward, DCC; Neil Galway, Queens University Belfast; Alison Harvey, Heritage Council; Cllr. Gerry McMonagle; Sinead McCauley, DCC; Leonard Watson Chamber of Commerce; Eunan Quinn, DCC; Michael Margey, LYIT.


The findings of a major new survey of the strengths and opportunities for Letterkenny was launched yesterday by the Heritage Council, Queen’s University Belfast and Donegal County Council.


The survey reveals people’s impressions of the town’s commercial and cultural options along with parking and entertainment facilities. Both shoppers and business people felt that the historic town would benefit from an improved public realm, additional residential accommodation and further investment in its built, cultural and natural heritage. The report will help to inform plans for the future management and revitalisation of the historic town centre.


The report entitled Letterkenny: Heart of Donegal, October 2018 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/building use/commercial mix, pedestrian footfall patterns and business operators and shoppers’ perceptions of the quality of the environment of the historic town.


The surveys showed that:


93% of business operators feel that Brexit will have a negative impact on their business;

80% travelled into Letterkenny by car;

58% felt there was not enough public space in the town centre;

93% felt that the connections between Main Street and the retail parks were very poor; and

29% identified Main Street as their preferred retail location in Letterkenny.


The completion of physical survey work, interviews and questionnaires informed a number of policy and design proposals and ideas to regenerate Letterkenny. These include the creation of a multi-modal transportation hub, an urban greenway network to connect Main Street to the Letterkenny Public Service Centre; enhanced public realm along Main Street and Market Square and a ‘Slips strategy’ to improve the connections from Main Street to the more recent developments on Pearse Road and beyond.


In January 2018, Queen’s University Belfast, supported by the Heritage Council and Donegal County Council, set up a town centre project as part of the National Collaborative Town Centre Health Check Training Programme.


Welcoming the Letterkenny: Heart of Donegal Report 2018, the Mayor of Letterkenny Municipal District, Cllr Ian McGarvey said the report was a positive and constructive basis on which Letterkenny Town Centre can be further enhanced and promoted. “This was a truly unique baseline survey undertaken by enthusiastic students and involving the town’s key strategic partners and it gives us a great framework for taking stock of Letterkenny’s many assets. We must be equipped with this sort of data to build for the future. Letterkenny is facing challenging times but has so much to offer, and this health check report by the students will help us to enhance and maximise the quality of life for everyone in the town,” he said.


Ali Harvey, CTCHC Co-ordinator with the Heritage Council added “The Letterkenny study demonstrates the importance of having a robust baseline and research data to inform decision-making and investment proposals for town centre renewal and revitalisation. The collaborative effort and wonderful ideas produced by the students, have been very rewarding and the innovative partnerships created bode well for the future of this wonderful historic, border town. We look forward to implementing the plan in Letterkenny.”


Dr Neil Galway, QUB, said: “Queen’s University looks forward to continued collaboration with all the agencies involved in this student-based regeneration project to maximise the opportunities for this historic town, ensuring it continues to prosper and grow. We are delighted that the students’ ideas have been so warmly received by all the partners involved.”


Donnan Harvey, Secretary of Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter CLG added that “the Cathedral Quarter Company members are pleased with the conversations that are taking place about the future of Letterkenny since the study was first presented in early summer. The ideas and visualisations produced by the QUB students fit well with our vision of developing the Cathedral Quarter as Letterkenny’s Cultural and Historic Quarter with our unique cultural heritage leading the way for regeneration”. 


Toni Forrester, CEO of Letterkenny Chamber highlighted that the report provides useful signposts for the future: “A healthy and vibrant town centre is important for everyone who lives, works and visits Letterkenny. As we work to develop Letterkenny and realise its ambitions this report has given us a focus and ideas that stakeholders have embraced.  It offers a great step forward in helping to further enhance what Letterkenny has to offer its citizens and visitors and to strengthen its image – both nationally and internationally.”


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