Adjudicators impressed by continental feel to Carrick-on-Shannon

Adjudicators impressed by continental feel to Carrick-on-Shannon

Tidy Towns Adjudicator's Report for Carrick-on-Shannon.

Community Involvement & Planning / Rannpháirtíocht an Phobail & Pleanáil:
Carrick on Shannon is welcome to the National Tidy Towns competition 2017. Thank you for a well-documented and comprehensive application which included a completed form, photographs and coloured map together with well-illustrated appendices. The photographs and maps were very much appreciated by the adjudicator and greatly facilitated the visit. Your partnership approach has proved very successful, involving Leitrim County Council, Roscommon County Council, Chamber of Commerce, Breffni Resource Centre, local Environmental Departments and community residents.

It is particularly encouraging to read of your communication with your schools and their achievements. Promotion, using local media, the website and Facebook, is obviously effective and your three schools are to be congratulated on the achievement of their green flags, Scoil Mhuire having achieved their green flags under litter and waste, energy, water, travel and biodiversity. We look forward to the new logo design when completed. Your list of sponsorships is impressive and it is encouraging to note that you made a profit from your 2017 calendar sales.

Built Environment and Streetscape / An Timpeallacht Thógtha agus Sráid-dreacha:
Recent improvements in the town centre have greatly enhanced the visual aspect of the town and provide a much improved setting for the many fine public buildings and commercial shop fronts dispersed throughout the ‘core’. The recently resurfaced Bridge Street looks excellent and many find shopfront presentations, containing attractive colour schemes and finely presented fascia lettering, were noted here, too many to mention individually.

The trend continues along Main Street with the busy looking Bush Hotel providing a nice visual centre- piece. On St. George’s Terrace the cluster of educational and cultural buildings provide a more formal atmosphere and here again presentations have a very high standard , including The Dock, ETB, The Red Bank, Hatley Manor and Áras An Chointe. Somehow the presentation of the Post Office was rather drab and disappointing, whereas opposite, the Markets had a bustling atmosphere and look excellent. Your focus, in recent years, on building conservation and regeneration is indeed successful and this policy is very well illustrated on the ‘Walk through Carrick-on-Shannon Trail’ which the adjudicator enjoyed on the occasion of the visit.

The new Susan Mitchel Sculpture at Church Lane and the nearby information plaques on local authors, add great vitality to the experience. Your list of newly painted premises is impressive and all were visited. Internally, the railway station looks very well with attractive small scale buildings and colourful planting. Externally, at the arrival car park area, the high stone retaining wall looks a little austere and could easily be visually improved by the addition of a name sign to the wall, perhaps using individual, well-proportioned lettering. Well done on the recent achievement of winning the best station in Connaught.

Landscaping and Open Spaces / Tírdhreachú agus Spásanna Oscailte:
Carrick on Shannon has some, very good quality, hard and soft landscaping areas, ranging from the Quays and Town Park area to the linear River Walk. The paved area at the bridge is colourfully landscaped and a credit to the volunteers who care for it. Further along the linear park has a fine range of interesting and contrasting atmospheres. This range includes the boardwalk, wild flower corridors, formal gardens, planted tubs and the unusual boat feature. At the Quay the sculpture and mosaic mural enhance a visually attractive entrance to the formal park. The information plaque here, identifying the trees, is educational and well considered, even though the plaque itself is now missing some of its wording and is in need of refurbishment. The timber kiosk building looks somewhat stark and out of place here and a little raw. A more subdued, darker colour would visually enhance and
provide a more integrated appearance. Your submission lists a substantial number of individual projects under this heading and all were visited. The Japanese Knotweed survey is a noteworthy objective and your co-operation with Leitrim County Council on this initiative is well worthwhile
Wildlife, Habitats and Natural Amenities / Fiadhúlra, Gnáthóga agus Taitneamhachtaí Nádúrtha:
The River Walk is a fine amenity incorporating some important habitats close to the town centre. This
amenity/facility was being well used by people of all age groups on the day of adjudication. The Bug Hotel and bird boxes are good developments here and your volunteers are to be congratulated on their on-going maintenance.

Well done on arranging for professional advice to both understand the context of the area and to assist with further development proposals. The myriad of information boards have a great educational value and certainly animate the enjoyment of a visit here.

Sustainable Waste and Resource Management / Bainistiú Acmhainní agus Dramhaíola Inbhuanaithe:
Your schools have impressive achievements in this category and this is evidenced by the number of green flags they have achieved. It is encouraging to read that you are increasing the list of initiatives to include activities with the Breffni Resource Centre and Men’s Shed. The Junk Couture project entered by your Community School is very interesting and a great promotion, as was the in-house scheme at Scoil Mhuire. The recycling centres at Tesco and off Leitrim Road were both well presented. The Mural at the latter looked very well.

Tidiness and Litter Control / Slachtmhaireacht agus Rialú Bruscair:
Undergrounding of cables and removal of poles from the town centre has led to a great visual improvement and this is a substantial achievement. Signage in the town centre has achieved a good standard on many imaginatively coloured buildings. Ornate, individual, gold leaf lettering was hugely admired as was some high quality, hand painted signage, continuing a great local tradition. On the outskirts of the town, particularly the Dublin Road, signage was indiscriminate, haphazard and in some cases completely out of scale with its surroundings and would need to be rationalized. The recent fencing on the Leitrim Road is a welcome improvement but should now be coloured to reduce visual impact and help to integrate with its surroundings. Initiatives on dog fouling and illegal
dumping were noted, as were improvements to street furniture at various locations. Litter control was generally very good, especially in the town centre areas and your operators and volunteers are to be congratulated on this effort.

One service area and pedestrian link to the rear of Bridge Street, connecting to the Landmark Hotel area, had a cobble-lock surface, which had become unravelled in places and was somewhat littered. Your co-operation and assistance with Cortober in the An Taisce Spring Clean was commendable and illustrates a great community spirit.

Residential Streets & Housing Areas / Sráideanna Cónaithe & Ceantair Tithíochta:
It is very encouraging to read that you are recording the architectural details of your many fine town houses, including elements such as doorways and their surrounds. In the environs you have a large range of individual estates and all estates were visited. The various initiatives you have undertaken in this category are effective.

Categorizing areas for competition and the holding of prize giving ceremonies is an effective way of promoting environmental issues in your many estates and this initiative was obviously effective. Well done to the recipients of the various category prizes.

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes / Bóithre Isteach, Sráideanna & Lánaí:
The inner relief road has an excellent presentation and the colourful roundabout planting was admired. Between the Shannon and Attyfinlay Roundabouts there is a fine colonnade of trees enclosing the road at either side. Tree planting sets a very good standard of presentation and has an impressive, visually unifying and softening effect. It is a theme that could be considered in more visually fragmented approaches. Nearby, opposite the Business Campus, a planning notice was observed. Any development on this site will offer an opportunity to develop and promote this objective. The ‘adopt a road’ scheme is a good initiative. This should prove very successful in
assisting the Tidy Towns volunteers with their on-going enhancement efforts.

Concluding Remarks:
The Carrick-on-Shannon community has a structured approach to on-going development in the town. There are many examples of good planning policy, good design and imaginative and colourful presentations dispersed throughout the town. New developments have largely integrated well and have helped to strengthen the traditional identity and ethos of your historical location.

Second Round Adjudication:
Congratulations to all at Carrick-on-Shannon for a very comprehensive entry to this year’s competition. You have been busy! Thank you for all of the supplementary materials but it is felt that many of these were not absolutely necessary. Compared with your main entry material - excellently laid out and illustrated - this extra paper and plastic felt somewhat superfluous. A detailed 3-Year Plan should be a priority for you. The map was perfect for the job at hand, thank you.

The adjudicator was delighted to be here for the second round assessment of a most vibrant and progressive town.

The weather was on side for the day and making the most of this were literally hundreds of visitors. Most of these were weekenders of the stag and hen variety but there were many others. Among them were newly arrived asylum-seekers and they were being welcomed with music and food at the Market Yard. It was great to see locals of all ages mingling with Leitrim’s new residents and helping them settle in their new home. On the main streets, many businesses were looking so well and attracting lots of the visitors with outside seating and terraces, giving Carrick-on-Shannon a rather continental feel. This was bolstered by the passage of boats on the shining waters of the Shannon on this fine Saturday. Premises that caught the eye included The Barrel Store, the sparkling Italian restaurant opposite, P. Flynn’s Bar and the ever-pleasing Bush Hotel. Opposite this is another new Carrick resident - another welcome addition to your streetscape. The Purple Flag is a great achievement, congratulations.

A few things jarred in an otherwise very neat town: oversized coffee-cup advertising just looks poor. Commercial signage shouldn’t be permitted on telegraph poles on approach roads. Equally, your Slí na Sláinte signs should be left uncluttered. Is there a dedicated cycle-lane on your busiest streets? Perhaps these should be throughout. A 60 kph sign was askew on the Croghan Road. The Railway buildings close to the roadway remain a challenge for you.

Overall the adjudicator was most struck by the clever, colourful and frankly stunning planting in your waterside linear park. Although there is good work carried out in lots of other parts of the town, this is surely the jewel in your crown. Here, biodiversity is obviously a key driver of your planting plan. The tiered planters had good impact on the hard surfaced areas. However, your main roundabouts were especially admired. This was a really pleasant visit on a bright and bustling day to one of the tidiest towns in Ireland. Well done to you all.

                                                Maximum Mark    Mark Awarded 2016   Mark Awarded 2017

Community Involvement & Planning       60                    49                            50

Built Environment and Streetscape         50                    46                            47

Landscaping and Open Spaces               50                    46                            47

Wildlife, Habitats & Natural Amenities     50                    31                            31

Sustainable Waste &                              50                    23                             23

Resource Management 

Tidiness and Litter Control                     90                     55                             56

Residential Streets & Housing Areas       50                    30                              30

Approach Roads, Streets & Lanes           50                    40                              40

Total Mark                                          450                  320                             324

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