A very radical proposal for SkyCourt Shopping Centre to be taken over and run by Clare County Council has been proposed by independent councillor Gerry Flynn.

Speaking at the recent meeting of Shannon Municipal District councillors, he also called on the local authority to begin developing a streetscape along An Bóthar Mór, the main road into Shannon. In a detailed motion, Cllr Flynn called on Clare County Council, “in the interest of progressing the development plan for Shannon, to begin the development of Bothar Mor (N10) as a streetscape.

In a detailed motion, Cllr Flynn called on Clare County Council, “in the interest of progressing the development plan for Shannon, to begin the development of Bothar Mor (N10) as a streetscape.

Also, that consideration is given to the council taking over SkyCourt as a public centre with a view to the creation of a proper town with decent services.” Cllr Flynn claimed the local authority has made many plans but there has been little progress. He called on the council to finish the ground work carried out by Shannon Development”. In

Cllr Flynn claimed the local authority has made many plans but there has been little progress. He called on the council to finish the ground work carried out by Shannon Development”. In

In response, the local authority’s senior planner Brian McCarthy said it would not be appropriate to elaborate or comment on the suggestion that the council takes over the shopping centre, “in light of the current ownership arrangements”.

Mr McCarthy made references to the first Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan in 2012 and “the award winning” Shannon Green Infrastructure Plan in 2013.

He indicated that an objective of the Shannon Local Area Plan is: “To consolidate the existing core retail area through the continuing improvement of the quality and range of retail offer, aesthetic improvements, the development of a street scape onto Bother Mor, improved access arrangements and by facilitating a growth in retail floor space that enhance the quality of service for the surrounding areas.”Mr McCarthy said Clare County Council will

Mr McCarthy said Clare County Council will favorably consider comprehensive development proposals for the town centre which are consistent with this objective. He also noted that while the Local Area Plan sets a framework for development, the council is reliant on developments from third parties to achieve this aim. Noting that the senior planner did

Noting that the senior planner did not address his key proposal, Cllr Flynn claimed precedent for Council involvement in commercial activity as it already owns the Cliffs of Moher visitor centre and has plans for “commercial activity” at Holy Island. Given that the senior planner had referred to various plans for Shannon, he

Given that the senior planner had referred to various plans for Shannon, he emphasised that 13 years on from Clare County Council taking over responsibility for the town, very little has been advanced. He said that many people over the years have developed businesses in Shannon and contributed a lot financially to Clare County Council.  “I feel that Shannon, as the second largest town in Clare, deserves more recognition from Clare County Council. What I’m trying to do is

He said that many people over the years have developed businesses in Shannon and contributed a lot financially to Clare County Council.  “I feel that Shannon, as the second largest town in Clare, deserves more recognition from Clare County Council. What I’m trying to do is kick start a revival in Shannon because after 13 years of Clare County Council stewardship we are at a stalemate in the town.” Helen Walsh,

Helen Walsh, senior librarian with Clare County Council who was deputising for meetings facilitator Liam Conneally, agreed with Cllr Flynn’s remarks.

Ms Walsh recalled having an involvement with a group of overseas architecture students some years ago when they discussed the possibilities of advancing rural and urban environments.

The students came up with some very positive ideas for Shannon but Ms Walsh says she doesn’t know what has happened to the proposals they put together. “I don’t believe anything has really progressed beyond that with regard to making Shannon a nice place to visit,” she added.

Ms Walsh also commented that it is not very clear for visitors to find their way around Shannon and said there a lot is needed to improve the environment in the town.

Despite the fact that it covers the period 2012-2018, one hears little or no mention today of the lofty concepts and ideas contained in the Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan.

Chapter 5 of the document focusses on Shannon Town Centre and the retail offering. Among the key aspects of the Local Area Plan was “the need to improve the physical appearance of the town centre, to encourage the increased use of the town centre for social and evening use, and to create an attractive place in which to shop, dine and recreate.”

It continues in this vein with, “Shannon town needs a new heart and focus that will make it an attractive destination, increasing footfall and thereby driving continued future development and assisting in supporting sustainable communities.”

Consider also this sentence: “The proposals for Shannon town centre reflect the need to plan ahead, taking into account the proposed future Shannon rail link and central station, together with the existing N19 road link and the planned redevelopment of the existing retail space.”

Cllr Flynn has called to get moving on developing a streetscape on Bothar Mor, which was what was envisaged in the Local Area Plan: “It is proposed that development frontage along An Bothar Mór will contribute to the formation of a new street in Shannon town centre.”