07. Green Infrastructure & Recreation
7.0 Green Infrastructure & Recreation
SO4: To support the creation and enhancement of a network of pedestrian walkways, footbridges and open spaces connecting the River Barrow and other recreational and tourist attractions within the settlement.
Natural heritage in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch includes a wide range of natural features that make an essential contribution to the environmental quality, ecological biodiversity, landscape character, visual amenity and recreational activities of the settlement. The location of the settlement on the River Barrow means water contributes significantly to the natural heritage of the settlement. The occurrence of natural vegetation adjacent to these water corridors also makes important contributions in terms of landscape character and ecology/biodiversity.
7.1 GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE
The environmental and heritage resources of Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch can be described as its Green Infrastructure. The Green Infrastructure network is the network of natural and semi-natural areas that support the natural environment by providing habitats for wildlife, air and water filtration and surface water management, recreational and tourism opportunities and “greener” neighbourhoods. Green infrastructure networks include waterways, wetlands, woodlands, wildlife habitats, greenways, parks and conservation lands, forests and other open spaces that surround and thread through our towns and cities. The emergence of Green Infrastructure planning is a response to the growing recognition of the many benefits which green space provides at a strategic level and of the need to plan for its protection, provision and management in tandem with plans for growth and development. It has a significant role to play in assisting in the protection of Natura 2000 sites and biodiversity and meeting the requirements of the Habitats Directive.
Under Article 10 of the Habitats Directive planning and development policies must endeavour to conserve and manage sustainable corridors and stepping stone habitat features. In recognition of this, the Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch Draft Joint LAP will address biodiversity and prepare a plan for its management at a local level, through the preparation of habitat mapping to identify and map the various habitats and green infrastructure areas in the settlement. These maps will provide a valuable tool in the future planning of the area and also provide information for the general public and community groups.
Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch benefits from a significant level of green infrastructure (Figure 7.1), which creates an attractive setting for residents and visitors alike. It will be important, as part of this Draft Joint LAP, to establish a coherent, integrated and evolving network that extends from the River Barrow and its extended network. The green infrastructure belt in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch runs primarily along the east west axis, along the river. Walking/cycling is encouraged and objectives to promote and encourage walking/cycling routes have been included in the plan which encourages better pedestrian connections across the river. The protection and enhancement of these areas as well as the links between them will play a significant role in enhancing biodiversity and providing opportunities for sustainable travel. It will also support any future tourism strategy for the settlement, thereby setting the stage for future investment in ancillary tourism and other infrastructure which will support the creation of a more diversified economic base.
In Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch the green infrastructure within the plan boundary includes the designated River Barrow/Nore Special Area of Conservation zoned as Open Space/Biodiversity conservation with a restriction on its use in order to protect the river and its banks as a green corridor for wildlife and biodiversity. The zoning objective in Appendix A confirms this commitment.
GI 1 – Green Infrastructure
It is the policy of Kilkenny and Carlow County Councils to identify, protect, enhance and further develop the Green Infrastructure network in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch and to strengthen links to the wider county and regional network.
It is the objective of the Council:
GIO 1.1: To carry out, as resources allow, Habitat and Green Infrastructure Mapping for Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch in order to reduce and avoid fragmentation or deterioration of the Green Infrastructure network and strengthen ecological links within Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch and to the wider regional network.
GIO 1.2: To preserve, protect and augment trees, groups of trees, woodlands and hedgerows within the settlement by increasing, where appropriate, tree canopy coverage using locally native species by incorporating them within design proposals and supporting their integration into the existing Green Infrastructure network.
7.2 Open Space
The quantity, quality, variety and accessibility of open space are all factors that influence the use of public space. The Guidelines on Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas emphasise the importance of qualitative standards regarding open space and sets out the key qualitative standards that open spaces should expect to achieve. While Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch has a significant amount of lands zoned for Open Space, access to some areas are limited. Open space and parkland represent an important component of a sustainable settlement as they contribute to the amenity of the area, as well as providing for the health and well-being of residents and encouraging ecology.
The River Barrow provides a significant opportunity for strategic Open Space that can connect into a wider regional network and support opportunities for strategic walking and cycling routes, in addition to ecology and biodiversity linkages. However, the river, at present is relatively inaccessible at some points in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch, with the exception of a few areas where access is possible, though limited due to overgrowth and poor maintenance along the banks. Whilst the overarching objective is to maintain the integrity of the River Barrow, the provisions of recreational space and associated uses along the river is supported subject to environmental considerations.
This Draft Joint LAP will endeavour to support sensitively designed and appropriate development in certain areas to provide an opportunity to develop/improve access to amenity areas with particular reference to the lands along the River Barrow. Chapter 5 acknowledges the role that development of tourism activities such as waterways activities, agri-tourism, green/ecotourism, art and craft retailing, food markets, local and other craft type activities may have on the tourism product in Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch.
The opportunity exists to consider sensitive redevelopment of the lands backing onto the river which could include a riverside park in Tinnahinch as explored in Chapter 5, linking new areas to the town centre, existing heritage sites including Tinnahinch Castle and St. Michaels Well and new and existing residential areas. However, it also acknowledges that the River Barrow is subject to recurrent flooding and proposals to positively exploit the river will be considered in the context of the Flood Relief works and the environmental sensitivities of the lands.
7.2.1 Sports Grounds
Formal sports amenity areas are located at the Graiguenamanagh GAA Grounds to the north west of the settlement providing significant facilities to the residents of the settlement; however, access to same can be limited.
OS2 - Open Spaces
It is the policy of Kilkenny and Carlow County Councils to provide for a hierarchy of high quality multi-functional public open spaces within Graiguenamanagh-Tinnahinch and to preserve and protect such spaces through the appropriate zoning of lands.
It is an objective of the Council:
OSO2.1: To support and facilitate the provision of open spaces with ecological and recreational corridors to aid the movement of biodiversity and people, subject to appropriate environmental assessment.
OSO2.2: To promote a network of paths and cycle tracks (Refer to Map 1) to enhance the use of the strategic open spaces in the town, while ensuring that the design and operation of the routes responds to the ecological protection needs of each site.
OSO2.3: New residential development is required to be consistent with standards set out in the Kilkenny and Carlow County Development Plans where playable space is to be provided as an integral part of each new development. This playable space can form part of the overall open space provision of a development but must be dedicated to play and must be accessible in accordance with the standards in the relevant County Development Plan.