A diagram of the possible development of a public space at Laurence's Gate.
Laurence’s Gate is surely the jewel of Drogheda’s built heritage and it was the cause of great celebrations in August 2017 when it was announced that motor traffic was being banned from using it.
However, apart from the necessary changes to the traffic flow, some signage being erected and some planters being installed, very little has happened on the ground since.
Council personnel have however drawn up plans for the area but numerous requests to Louth County Council for information on what these plans include has resulted in very little information apart from vague talk of a public plaza type development at the gate with a possible performance space.
Heritage Council funding for the development of the gate has been refused for the past three years so Louth County Council has made provision in their Capital Programme for it.
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A Council spokesperson told Drogheda Life this afternoon that it is their intention to advance the project to Part 8 of the Planning Process which they hope will be completed by year end.
Drogheda Councillor and Cathaoirleach (Chairman) of the Council, Pio Smith, said there was general disappointment last month when it was revealed that the Heritage Council had refused funding to develop the area under and around the Gate.
“However all is not lost” he said. “In 2021 the preliminary design for the public realm around St Laurence Gate to create an outdoor space for gatherings and performances was developed. This plan is ambitious and seeks to create a pedestrianised area from the Gate extending to part of Laurence Street.
“In my discussion with council officials I can confidently say that this project will eventually come to fruition. In fairness to Chief Executive Joan Martin, she has given a commitment to proceed to Part 8 planning application for the project using internal council funding.
“Part 8 is a process that allows for the application of planning permission for projects by local authorities. This will involve the erection of a site notice outlining the work that the council would like to carry out. A report will then be issued to the council with a recommendation to proceed or abandon the proposed development.
“This will not exclude Louth County Council from applying to the Heritage Council for additional funding in 2023.
"The Part 8 process can be slow and expensive. A number of specialists reports need to be compiled to enable the process to kick off. However given that the Chief Executive has given her backing to the project I believe that within a short number of years we will have a new public realm venue in Drogheda.”