Fermanagh Area Plan 2007
Proposals: Enniskillen Town Centre
Enniskillen Town Centre is an attractive retail, tourist and general service centre. It also functions as a locally significant housing, office, educational, ecclesiastical and cultural centre.
In terms of its range of shops and retail services Enniskillen compares well with neighbouring towns such as Omagh or Dungannon. In recent years the retail facilities of the traditional town centre have been complemented by the development of the Erneside Shopping Centre. The new Dunne's Stores development on the Market Yard site has further improved choice for the consumer in the convenience, clothing and household goods sectors. One of the main issues for the future will be to control the potential adverse impact on traditional town centre streets of the unfettered growth of new shopping centres.
Since the extensive clearance of sub-standard housing in the 1960s, the dominant role of housing as the major land use in the town centre has gradually diminished. There are still some small residential areas remaining in the town centre and more recently, new residential accommodation has been provided on "the island" by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive at Market Street and by Oaklee Housing Association in Anne Street. Elsewhere throughout the town centre, residential accommodation can be found at upper floor level or to the rear of many commercial properties. The Department has actively encouraged the provision of additional residential units in the town centre by means of Comprehensive Development Area declaration and provision of Urban Development Grant funding. The Department used Comprehensive Development Area powers to assemble land at Paget Square for redevelopment by the Royal British Legion Housing Association to provide 30 units of sheltered accommodation. A total of over £450,000 Urban Development Grant has been approved for schemes in Enniskillen town centre between 1990 and 1994, which will result in the provision of 57 units of residential accommodation, 50 of which are located on 'the island'. As well as facilitating provision of new residential development it is important that remaining residential areas do not disappear and that ways are found to encourage more people to live on "the island". A solid population base within the town centre helps retain its vitality particularly at night, reduces vandalism and generally makes it a more attractive place to visit.
Enniskillen Town Centre is fortunate in that its main street has retained much of its traditional character. This character derives from several factors, including its length and continuity along an undulating curved frontage, its relative narrowness and consistent building line, the relative uniformity of building scale and the uninterrupted flow of building facades. In addition, the main street contains many buildings listed as being of architectural and/or historic merit, important facades and a great variety of traditional shop fronts and signs.For this reason the Department designated an area of the town stretching from Portora, through Willoughby Place and The Brook to include the main street and Fort Hill as a Conservation Area in 1988. Detailed guidelines for developers are set out in the Department’s publication ‘The Enniskillen Conservation Area’ and this covers such aspects as the height, form, materials, finishes and detailing for new and renovated buildings.
Major environmental improvements have recently been carried out at The Diamond and nearby streets and entries together with improvements to the townscape generally through the application of Conservation Area and Urban Development Grants. By contrast, however many backlands including outhouses and stores which are highly visible from both Wellington Road and Queen Elizabeth Road are still in various states of disrepair Furthermore, much of the town centre area is lacking in significant tree cover.
Fermanagh District Council is the body primarily responsible for the implementation of local tourism and recreation schemes. Recent improvements include the upgrading of the Visitor Centre and the County Museum, the sensitive restoration of the Buttermarket and the development of a Canoe Centre on Castle Island.
The opening of the final phase of Wellington Road has completed a ring of two-way traffic roads around the commercial core, however high traffic volumes at a number of key junctions in the network continue to cause localised congestion problems.
Enniskillen is presently reasonably well served by existing long and short stay car parks. However, given the island location of the commercial core there is a finite amount of land which can be utilised for this purpose. It is recognised that the provision of an adequate supply of well located car parking spaces is essential to the efficient functioning of the town centre and this must be accommodated in a manner which does not detract from the visual appearance of the town centre.
- To extend the range of retail shopping and service facilities so as to maximise choice for the consumer.
- To retain and consolidate the commercial attraction of the town centre shopping streets.
- To retain and expand where possible the town centre dwelling stock to meet a wide range of housing needs.
- To improve the townscape and conserve its historic assets.
- To promote tree planting where practicable throughout the town centre.
- To promote the continued development of the town centre as a major tourist and recreation attraction.
- To incorporate within the town centre, suitable sites to meet small scale craft and mixed business needs.
- To provide a traffic management system which will reduce vehicular conflicts to a minimum and give greater freedom of movements to pedestrians.
- To provide sufficient car parking spaces well distributed within easy walking distance of the commercial core of the town.
- To reduce vehicular/pedestrian conflict in town centre streets.
- To improve pedestrian linkages throughout the town.
- To ensure that the requirements of people with disabilities or special needs are taken into account in the layout of car parks and footpaths and in the consideration of proposals for the development of public and commercial buildings.
The Strategic and Regional Planning Policies for Enniskillen Town Centre are currently provided by the Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland published 1993 and Planning Policy Statement 5 Retailing and Town Centres published in 1996.