Wednesday, 21st February 2018
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City Centre Management Group's Action Plan delivering positive results

An updated City Health Check for 1st July to 31st December, 2017 detailed some very positive changes to the City, since the City Centre Management Group was formed in early 2013. The report was presented by Mr. Billy Duggan, Waterford Council Economic Dept.

Cllr. Eddie Mulligan commented that he could remember not so long back, when there was very little footfall in the Michael Street area of the City and property vacancy was almost 50% in this particular street. Michael Street and John Street needed such a cleanup that following their lobbying to the CCMG. Waterford Council painted the buildings in Michael Street and John Street to start the renaissance of this area. A City "Health Check” in July 2014 showed a vacancy rate of 18% for City Centre Shop occupancy. This highlighted one in five business premises were closed or empty in the city.

Fast forward to January 2018 and the 2017 City Health Check shows the vacancy rate is now around 5% which means that only one in twenty businesses are closed and empty in the city. Collr. Mulligan credits the people of Waterford with a change in attitude to supporting local businesses and shops. "A focused, hard working CCMG team, which initiated game changing projects such as Purple Flag accreditation and Safe City, are now seeing results. With Waterford Council delivering competitive, extra parking spaces in areas like the new Waterside car park. The delivery of targeted economic support Grants, to encourage new businesses to occupy empty buildings, all helping to turn the fortunes for the Cit.

In July 2014 there were 4,095 parking spaces in the City, and in January 2018 there are 4,400 spaces. With €1 per hour and €3.60 per day parking available in Council car parks and all car parks are reporting increased occupancy.

Five years ago, another key aim of the Group was to work together with stakeholders to increase footfall. Various programmes were initiated to ensure a much greater connectivity between the Viking Triangle and the heart of the City Centre, John Roberts Square. New footfall counters were installed around the City, in early 2017 and comparing like with like shows there has been a 48% increase in footfall over the past five years, in areas such as Georges Street, this traditionally being the highest footfall street in the City. These footfall counters also show that the pillar festivals events, such as Spraoi, Harvest Festival, Winterval and Summer in the City, are vitall footfall generators.

Notwithstanding this success one of the foremost issues, concerning businesses and citizens alike, in the City Centre, is that of the continuing concerns around teenage anti-social behaviour. A new working group which will be chaired by Cllr.

Mulligan was approved by Lar Power, Deputy CEO of Waterford Council and Chair of the City Centre Management Group. Volunteers to the committee are Cllr. Breda Brennan, Claire Loughnane (Waterford Council), Michael Murphy (WIT Students Union), Brian Moore (Waterford Port) and a Garda nomination.

The majority of retailers and businesses in the City reported some sort of economic stability in 2017, for the first time in ten years. "It is with renewed confidence and a successful collaborative strategy, supported by Waterford Council, that we can now visualise a City, which will, in the foreseeable future, regain our rightful place as the economic driver of the South East,” commented Collr. Mulligan.

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