Cllrs were briefied on ambitious plans to develop a new town centre in Trim including lands around the OPW building and the area around the Aura Leisure Centre and Trim GAA complex.

Cllrs briefed on ambitious plan to develop new Trim town centre

The first steps have been taken in developing a masterplan for a large swathe of land to the rear of Emmet Street in Trim, running from the River Boyne to the Newhaggard Road.

When completed, the masterplan will provide a framework for the development of the new town centre including lands around the Office of Public Works building and also takes in the area around the Aura Leisure Centre and Trim GAA complex.

Central to the plans will be the linkages between the existing town centre and the new town centre area and creating a live and work community.

Representatives of developers who own substantial lands in the area attended the November meeting of Trim Municipal District Council to give an update to councillors, and outlined how the plan was very much at an early stage.

Other stakeholders in the plan area include existing businesses and property owners along Emmet Street, the OPW and Meath County Council also owns land in the area.

Cathaoirleach Joe Fox said: “It is a pivotal site for town of Trim. The iconic OPW building is probably the most important building in Trim since the castle 800 years ago and it is tucked away where nobody can see it.”

“This site can transform the town of Trim and blend the old and the new. It is very important we get it right,” he said as he welcomed the presentation.

Padraig Maguire of the council's planning department said the masterplan is an objective of the County Development Plan and that they will agree with developers what is to be contained. He said the presentation was a courtesy to members to update them and was a draft outline of what is being proposed for information purposes. Councillors do not have a say in the masterplan and it is an executive function. Any future development on the lands will then be subject to the planning application process.

Representatives of the developers said they would stick rigidly to the County Development Plan and the core strategy and would work over the coming months to see the plan progress and delivered.

They said the ultimate ambition was to get people away from cars and to be able to access their community on foot and live and work in their own area. They spoke of the idea of a “15 minute city” in Europe where everything can be reached on foot in 15 minutes and said this could be achieved in Trim.

They spoke of the importance of respecting the “iconic” OPW building and the archaeology of the area, as well as making sure the whole area links up well into Trim with plenty of permeability between Emmet Street and the site, as well as the potential for river walks and open space.

Councillors very much emphasised the need to get the masterplan and subsequent development in the area right so that it would complement rather than detract from the existing town centre.

Cllr Noel French said the plan is hugely important to town or Trim and could “make or break” the town. He said permeability with the existing town centre was going to be very important and the linking of the new with the old. “We don't want the centre of town dragged out of it and it has be balanced development so that yes it is commercially viable but also that it leave the town of Trim better off.”

Cllr Ronan Moore said: “My ambition is that this could be used as a European example about how private and public entities come together and create something world-class,” and expressed his hope that this could be the Council's legacy. He added that it would take time and that design and redesign and redesign would be important. “I would like to see this go back and forth, how to make this better and better,” he said.

Cllr Trevor Golden said he would like to see density and that may mean height, rather than seeing the town sprawl. “I'm not saying we want skyscrapers but I think there is a good balance to be struck with density.”

He added that one of the things he had noticed is the amount of people living in the town centre had declined considerably and that apartments need to be of a size that people can live in them with families.

Cllr Aisling Dempsey also said there is a balance to struck around commercial, residential and density.

Part of the lands had been earmarked for a new town-centre development more than a decade ago that was to be built alongside the OPW building.

Planning was granted for a supermarket, 21 retail units, a bar/cafe, offices and 144 apartments in 2007 on lands being sold by the council but the development never went ahead after the developer, Bennett Construction, pulled out.

The council later sold a portion of lands in that area to ALDI which opened a supermarket in 2017.