THE RIVERSIDE GARDEN – ABBEY QUARTER PROJECT KILKENNY
Kilkenny’s new Riverside Garden and Skatepark opened to the public in June 2021 however the skatepark has been operational since the beginning of May and has proved to be very popular. While the Riverside Garden project provides a significant extension to the riverside walkways through the city, plans to extend this further to provide connectivity under Greens Bridge, connecting with the Linear Park at Bishops Meadows/Riverside Drive are also currently being progressed with funding from the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund.
The Abbey Quarter, site of the former Smithwick’s Brewery, is a strategic city centre site located on the banks of the river Nore in the heart of Kilkenny City. The 300 year old brewery was closed by Diageo in 2013. Kilkenny County Council then purchased the site and produced a detailed masterplan for the brewery site and adjacent lands, totalling about 20 acres. With St Francis Abbey at its core, this regeneration project aims to create an attractive, well-designed urban quarter with a mix of uses. These include commercial, residential, enterprise development, recreational and community.
The masterplan’s vision is to develop the Abbey Quarter as a seamless complement to the medieval city. It envisages the quarter being an inclusive place for an inter-generational community to work, live and play. The masterplan supports objectives in the Government’s National Planning Framework such as compact growth; enhanced regional accessibility; sustainable mobility; a strong economy, supported by enterprise, innovation and skills; and enhanced amenities and heritage.
The project links the old and the new. A brownfield site (a disused site envisaged for redevelopment) will be transformed through new buildings and the re-use of old buildings. Certain empty spaces will be converted into public spaces. The regenerated area will enhance the city’s Medieval Mile.
The Government has given approval in principal to provide €6.15 million through its Urban Regeneration Development Fund (URDF) to fund significant public realm areas (that is, areas that the public can access) and community and cultural infrastructure projects in the Abbey Quarter. The funding allocation is 75% of the total cost of these works. These include:
a riverside park
a two and half acre urban park around St Francis Abbey
other community and cultural infrastructure, including a public library in the Mayfair building.
The public spaces and parks will become a backdrop to Kilkenny’s many outdoor festivals.