2.3 Employment and Economy
The main commercial enterprises in Gowran are Connolly’s Red Mills, Harding’s Fireplaces, Teach Mhuire café and bakery, Lanigan’s truck repair, CT’s Tyres, Threesixty marketing and woodcraft. No industrial zoning was included in the 2003 Plan, but the Town Centre zoning provided for a wide variety of commercial uses. In this Plan the Town Centre zone has been replaced by a General Objective zone. It is intended that this zone would allow for a wide variety of uses, all of which would have been permitted in the Town Centre zone.
The Retail Planning Guidelines for Planning Authorities sets out Government policy in relation to shops in small towns and rural areas. The vital role that foodstores and supermarkets play in maintaining the quality and range of shopping in smaller rural town centres and assisting in the anchoring of the surrounding local economy, is recognised. The Guidelines state that planning policies should be supportive of local facilities in small towns and villages which provide an effective and valuable service to the local economy.
This plan will facilitate additional commercial activities to serve future development. There will be a clear presumption in favour of central locations for new developments.
Policy (Chapter 5 of the County Development Plan 2008-2014 also applies):
Policy EE1 To facilitate the expansion of the retail base to serve the needs of the current and future population, in accordance with the policies as laid out by the County Development Plan 2008 and the Retail Planning Guidelines, 2005
Gowran is endowed with a number of quality tourist attractions. The main attractions are St. Mary’s Church, at which there is now a visitor centre (open seasonally), and Gowran Park Racecourse and Golf Club.
Issues raised at the public consultation related to parking for St. Mary’s Church, the lack of adequate signage, the state of disrepair of Gowran Castle, and a lack of tourist accommodation.
In the last plan, an objective was included to provide a tourist trail within and around the town. The implementation of such an objective for a tourist/heritage trail could be examined by the community, in conjunction with Kilkenny Leader Partnership. The Council would facilitate any proposal in this regard.
Parking is available at the Fair Green to provide access to St. Mary’s. The OPW are examining improvements to signage in consultation with the Council.
There is a lack of tourist accommodation in the town. Gowran Demesne, discussed below has the potential to offer tourist accommodation and facilities.
184.108.40.206 Gowran Castle
Gowran Castle, a protected structure (Ref C344), is a dominant feature in the town. In 1999, permission was refused for a housing development consisting of 156 dwellings on the site. In 2004 permission was refused for a development including changing the use of the Castle to a hotel, building 106 residential units, 23 holiday units, a crèche and converting the gate lodge, castle cottage and castle stables to 8 holiday homes.
This protected structure and its extensive grounds present an ideal opportunity for tourism/leisure development. Therefore the area will remain zoned for Integrated Tourism and Leisure, which allows for a mix of tourist accommodation and limited residential accommodation, in addition to leisure uses. The concept of ‘enabling development’ will also be applied, in which the Council may consider other uses for the site which brings public benefits in the form of the restoration of the Castle. Such a use would not be considered if it:
- Caused material harm to the Castle, its setting, or the demesne
- Was not demonstrated as being necessary, whether in principle or in scale, to achieve the benefit
- Delivered only the use, but not the restoration of the Castle
Further detail on this is set out in the zoning text for the Integrated Tourism and Leisure zone.
In particular, the Council would welcome leisure uses which also serve the community.
Owners of protected structures have a duty to ensure that the structure is not endangered. Under Section 59 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, the Council can serve a notice requiring works to be carried out in relation to endangerment of protected structures. Such a notice was served in early 2010.
Policies & Objectives (Chapter 7 of the County Development Plan 2008-2014 also applies):
Obj. EE2 To facilitate and encourage the development of facilities and accommodation catering for tourists in Gowran
Obj. EE3 To support and facilitate the community in the provision of a tourist/heritage trail within and around the town
Obj. EE4 To facilitate the improvement of the directional sign posting for tourists within Gowran, particularly in conjunction with the OPW for St. Mary’s Church
Obj. EE5 To support and assist the future development of Gowran Demesne in co-operation with the land owners, the local Community groups, Kilkenny Tourism, Fáilte Ireland South East, and KLP as appropriate in accordance with the policies and objectives of this Local Area Plan.
Obj. EE6 To utilise the powers of the Planning and Development Act 2000 in relation to the endangerment of protected structures.
Dereliction and the maintenance of buildings was identified as an issue in Gowran. There are a number of prominent properties on Main Street which present a poor appearance in the town. The maintenance of Gowran Castle and its gate lodge is being dealt with through the process for prevention of endangerment to protected structures, as outlined above. One structure is currently being pursued under the Derelict Sites legislation.
Policies (Policy ED40 of the County Development Plan 2008-2014 also applies)
Policy EE7: To encourage and provide for the sensitive refurbishment or redevelopment of derelict sites in the village
 Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, 2005 Retail Planning Guidelines for Planning Authorities
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