Delivering a new future for Flowerhill
Creating a new streetscape, developing an urban quarter, a river park, and rebuilding Flowerhill are all aims of an ambitious development plan being proposed in Meath County Council’s Draft Flowerhill and Abbeylands Urban Design Plan in Navan.
The comprehensive plan is currently on public display, inviting submissions from interested parties up until 24th September. The new action plan should be viewed as a ‘live document’ to assist in managing project delivery, the council says.
It has drawn up the plans with the Paul Hogarth Company, a multi-disciplinary team of landscape architects, urban designers and planners, in conjunction with its own planning department. It was shaped as well by members of the public, local stakeholders, and councillors.
This follows two separate allocations from central government totaling over €11 million, allowing the council to acquire some derelict properties and commission the plan.
In January 2019 Meath County Council commissioned the preparation of an Urban Design Plan for Lands at Flowerhill and Abbeylands, Navan. This move reflected a recognition that population decline, vacancy, dereliction and anti-social behaviour have led to the undesirability of Flowerhill as a place to live and invest in.
The area faces new challenges due to a shift in the economic landscape with the traditional mill and manufacturing jobs no longer in existence. The green area known as the ‘Mollies’, that lies alongside the River Blackwater, is no longer deemed a community asset but is now an overgrown inaccessible space that is an attraction for anti-social behaviour.
Along Flowerhill a transient population has brought with it issues with poor community cohesion which has been exacerbated by the more recent architectural additions to the streetscape. These apartments have failed to positively add to the area and have instead set the context for social issues, increased crime rates and a poorly perceived sense of safety, according to the report.
The draft plan and accompanying Natura Impact Statement is available to view until Friday 24th September (inclusive), at Meath County Council, Buvinda House, Dublin Road, Navan, and Navan Branch Library, Railway Street, Navan, and on consultation portal https://consult.meath.ie.
Flowerhill – the Street
Streetscape enhancement proposed includes improved street design including widened pedestrian pavements, cycling infrastructure, the introduction of quality paving, street
trees, quality street furniture, car parking and lighting; shopfront improvement; the introduction of lighting and CCTV will help create a safer environment for both
residents and visitors; and aesthetic building enhancements, to create an improved built environment, contributing to an inviting and attractive sense of place.
Abbeylands Urban Quarter
A well-designed mixed-use development will create a new urban quarter for the area. Abbeylands offers a fantastic opportunity to embrace a style and scale of development
that can compliment the offering of Flowerhill without competing or directly mirroring it.
This new urban quarter shall be a vibrant development that goes beyond merely providing housing units as it will provide a variety of quality housing supported by amenities and facilities that sustainably serve the community.
The plan states that this area needs a sustainable network of streets and pathways, rather than roads and highways. This will encourage residents to interact with the surrounding environment and provide dedicated public realm space for occasional civic and social events and activities.
This area must be highly connected with the adjacent River Blackwater so that it can be enjoyed as a visual asset and an attractive riverside park. This new urban quarter can be a significant attraction, both in terms of the quality of the development and also quality of life for residents.
Actions on this proposal include a network of connections to link Abbeylands with the river, Flowerhill and the surrounding areas, to promote sustainable movement to help alleviate
traffic congestion and create a healthy and attractive environment that alters current perceptions. Public spaces to provide a destination where people can gather, and events can take place.
A mixed-use development will complement both Flowerhill and the Town Centre, while encouraging activity and ensuring spaces are overlooked. Development will be of an appropriate density that respectfully reflects its adjacent environs.
Opening this stretch of the River Blackwater would enable Flowerhill and Abbeylands not only to connect with the town centre but also connect to the regional river network and Blackwater Park.
A town wide network of river spaces and connections will provide leisure and sustainable tourism opportunities with potential economic benefits.
Managing the overgrown vegetation and sensitively working with native species means that the plan offers a chance for habitat restoration and creation along the riverbanks.
Improving the external appearance of buildings, in particular the apartment developments in Flowerhill, will have a positive impact on the overall visual quality of the area and contribute to rebuilding community pride.
The key site, bound by the Ratholdren Road, New Lane and Flowerhill, is a particularly important location on Flowerhill. Following extensive examination and re-evaluation the retention of the existing buildings along Flowerhill is not considered appropriate due to technical constraints, in particular having regard to site gradients and accessibility requirements.
The redevelopment of this site and the provision of a high-quality development is considered to be of paramount importance to the successful regeneration of the wider Flowerhill area.
Each project will be dependent on funding and approvals.