Press Release: April 18, 2023
Ennis Chamber ‘Distance to Workplace Survey’ reveals 61.5% of Ennis town centre employees live more than 3kms from their workplace.
Ennis Chamber surveyed over 500 employees of town centre businesses to ascertain how far they live from their workplace. Results show 61.5% of employees surveyed live more than 3kms from their workplace.
Key Survey Results
· 61.5% of employees surveyed live 3kms PLUS (one-way) from their workplace.
Of the total survey base:
· 38.5% live within 3km (one-way) of their workplace.
· 16.5% live between 3 – 5 km (one-way) of their workplace.
· 23% live between 5 – 10kms (one-way) of their workplace.
· 22% have a 10kms PLUS (one-way) commute.
Of the 500+ town centre employees surveyed only 28 have access to private car parking, representing approx. 5.5% of respondents.
Sheila Lynch, President Ennis Chamber commented, “While it may be reasonable to assume that many employees who live within 3kms of their workplace can engage in active travel (cycle or walk) others will struggle. And certainly, the majority of those who live 3kms plus from their place of work who rely on the car for transport, will continue to do so for many years to come.”
She added, “Much as we all want to see a reduction in car use, while there continues to be a deficit in public transport infrastructure, we will continue to rely on cars as a key mode of transport in regional towns such as Ennis, and therefore we will depend on parking being available to meet those needs and demands.”
The ‘Distance to Workplace Survey’ was carried out by Ennis Chamber to provide factual data to Clare County Council Ennis Municipal District for inclusion in the Area Based Transport Assessment (ABTA), which is currently being undertaken. This assessment process is used in the preparation of the Ennis Transport Plan (as part of the Ennis local area plan process). This assessment will be used to influence decisions around the provision of town bus requirements and preferred routes, town parking and other key infrastructure transport related decisions.
Replacing Lost Parking
While the survey was carried out by Ennis Chamber, to provide data for the Area Based Transport Assessment (ABTA), it was inspired by a meeting with Ennis 2040 and Ennis Municipal District senior administrators earlier this year when it was made apparent that Abbey Street and Parnell Street car parks, were to be subject to extensive development as part of the evolving Ennis 2040 Strategy.
Sheila noted, “We knew from talking with our town centre members that many of their employees live a considerable distance from work, but we also knew we couldn’t rely on anecdotal information and hence the survey was launched, to garner facts.”
Only two of the car parking solutions put forward by Clare County Council, in lieu of projected lost parking at Abbey Street and Parnell Street car parks, and on-street, lost due to urban regeneration works, are permanent solutions. One of those – The Cloister Car Park – is in the private ownership of the GAA. The other is for 80 spaces at Waterpark House, Drumbiggle Road, owned by Clare County Council.
Sheila noted, “Many of our members fear that the parking needs of our town, for both staff and customers will not be satisfied going forward and the vibrancy and economic health of our town will be negatively impacted.”
Balancing Parking Needs with Future Investment
She concluded, “That said, at Ennis Chamber we understand the importance of having a plan in place for the future growth of our town. We appreciate that to attract investment we need to have a plan, and we support the requirement for such a plan. However, we need that plan to acknowledge the need for convenient, accessible parking, in order for Ennis to attract and retain a variety of businesses, employees, regular customers and visitors.”
Multi-Storey Solution Required
In the original Ennis 2040 Plan, launched in 2021, The ‘Friar’s Walk Transformational Project’ included a multi-storey car park to: “provide for travel to the town centre, alongside a new bus shelter to promote and provide for public transport infrastructure,”
Diarmuid McMahon, of Sherry FitzGerald McMahon, represented Ennis Chamber on the Ennis 2040 Plan Steering Committee, prior to the publication of the Ennis 2040 Plan.
He confirmed, “Because parking availability has long been a problem in Ennis, it was dealt with as a priority during the steering group discussions. It was clearly identified that parking spaces lost to accommodate future development and public realm works, required a multi-storey car park solution as close to the town centre as possible, as an integral part of the plan. The solution to provide a multi-storey car park beside Temple Gate Hotel was considered an ideal solution given its proximity to the town centre. The first we heard that this multi-storey car park was dropped from the Ennis 2040 Plan was earlier this year.
Public infrastructure required in order to transition
Diarmuid McMahon added, “The Ennis 2040 plan is ambitious and seeks to look to the future to best place the town to ensure it remains a vibrant and attractive place to live for our future generations. The plan also seeks and has a responsibility to continue to support the needs of those currently dependent on the town’s amenities. Not to plan would be to fail. The world we are living in is changing rapidly. The urban centres that can anticipate these changes and have the courage to act are the ones that will thrive in the future.
However, much as we may want and need to replace cars, the reality is that use of the car as the key form of transport to access regional towns in Ireland, whether as employees or customers, is not going to disappear anytime soon. Critically, we simply don’t have the public transport infrastructure in place to allow for a speedy transition. Even the long-promised Ennis town bus service won’t be in place until 2025 at the earliest.
He continued, “We therefore need to ensure there are enough parking spaces to satisfy the needs and demands of both staff and customers. It would be a great shame that the vision of the plan should unnecessarily be consumed with parking alone. The plan envisages a significant increase in the population of the town to 40,000 people. Current parking capacity, even with significant public transport and cycle / pedestrian infrastructure, would not be sufficient.
The solution included in the launched version of the 2040 Plan for a multi-storey car park in Temple Gate, has the potential to accommodate proposed developments elsewhere in the town centre. By pivoting away from that solution, a parking conundrum has been created along with a vacuum that is being filled by a plethora of dissenting voices. It is important that the vision and potential of the plan as a whole, is not undermined by this important single issue.”
The view of Ennis Chamber is that Ennis needs and deserves an Ennis 2040 Plan to shape its future and to leverage investment, balanced with a need for:
· Immediate local frequent public transport.
· Safe cycle and pedestrian access for those that live close enough to the town
· An adequate permanent parking fix that gives easy access to the town centre, to guarantee its future vibrancy and footfall.
For further information contact: Margaret O’Brien, CEO, Ennis Chamber: email@example.com