Locals will get to have their say on the €1 million project when plans go on public consultation next Thursday.

‘Game changer’ Slane plan goes on public display

Plans for the long campaigned for Slane bypass and public realm plan which includes a HGV ban, the redesign of the junction on the square, the creation of a new village garden and the removal of the overhead gantries on the descent to Slane Bridge have gone on public display.

The draft public realm plan that was described as a project of "national importance" and "a game changer" for the area at recent Laytown/Bettystown Municipal meeting last week makes extensive proposals which would radically change how the village looks and how traffic and pedestrians move through its centre.

BDP Urban Design and Landscape Consultants were appointed by the Planning Department of Meath County Council to produce a public realm strategy for Slane village centre.

Engineers from Meath County Council gave an update on the scheme at the recent council meeting. They said a date for submission of the plans to An Bord Pleanala could not be confirmed due to pending approval of the business case plan but work was on going with the TII.

The scheme consists of a 3.5km long Bypass to the East of the village, a type two duel carriageway with three junctions one at the north, one on the n51 and one at the southern end with a combined footway and cycle way running along the bypass.

The plan which sets out the future approach to the streets and spaces of the village includes speed reduction measures, defined spaces and narrowed streets to create more space and an improved layout.

Plans also include a car park to the south of the N51 Navan Road, wider footpaths throughout the village to encourage walking and narrower carriageways to reduce speeds and encourage cycling.

It will also include an improved junction at the square, greater public lighting, greater space for pedestrians and the introduction of vegetation with tree lined streets enhancing the appearance of the heritage village.

This proposal is dependent on the delivery of the Slane bypass and the removal of heavy goods vehicles from the village.

Local councillor Wayne Harding describes the potential for Slane with the implementation of the bypass as "staggering," he added:

"The bypass inches closer to a new application to An Bord Pleanala. After losing a decade since the last application where An Board Pleanala went against their own inspectors recommendation and refused the bypass, Meath County Council are going back with a bypass and public realm plan that has absolutely enormous potential for the historic village.

"The plan put simply would replace the HGV laden N2 with a cycle and pedestrian link to the Boyne Greenway. The tourism potential of this for the whole of the Boyne Valley is staggering. The people of Slane have campaigned for so long to take the dangerous N2 out of Slane village and today represents another step up a very big mountain."

Cllr Paddy Meade raised concerns about a total HGV ban and how this would impact local businesses who operate such vehicles.

Cllr Sharon Tolan raised the question as to whether the HGV could potentially stunt economic growth in the area.

"This is a really exciting time for Slane and for Meath County Council, I know there has been great will to get this over the line," she said. The fact that we included the realm and the pedestrian and cycling facilities and this was decided pre covid is interesting because it has proved all the more reason that we need the extra facilities. The HGV ban is a game changer for the village but have you consulted with local business owners in relation to what kind of impact a complete GHV ban will have on them. It's only possible for the residents of Slane but the business owners need to be considered.”

The council official responded saying that locally generated HGVs would still be able to operate and local deliveries would still be allowed, whether that be under a permit or some other system.

They added that they saw the vision for Slane hugely positive in terms of tourism and commercial growth.