Kells is an attractive historic town, located to the north of Co. Meath. Kells has a medieval street pattern with buildings of significant heritage quality throughout the town.
The town has a generally compact town centre with many key buildings. These consist mainly of commercial, institutional, office, residential and public buildings with many shops and businesses. The town in recent times has extended along the main approach roads, with housing developments. The scale of the built environment is relatively low mainly two storey and single storey developments. Car parking is provided along the main streets in the town centre and tends to take up most of the kerbside space.
The future development of Kells will focus mainly on the existing town centre area and the provision of well-connected spaces, that has a good mix of housing and uses that will ensure the town can meet the needs of its residents and wider community. The future commercial and residential development of the town centre will try to encourage and support the redevelopment of plots within the town centre and really encourage greater use of ‘backlands’ for suitable town centre uses. A connected approach with adjoining properties will be encouraged to facilitate development at a future stage. All future development should respect the town’s character and integrate with the existing town.
The town has the benefit of the M3 Motorway bypass. However, the town still has high traffic levels and with its wide carriage width, random parking, lack of suitable and clear pedestrian crossings and cycle lanes and narrow pavements in places makes is very difficult for people to walk and cycle in the town. Linkages through existing developed areas and residential neighbourhoods is also limited, with pedestrian (and cycle) movements directed to the main roads.
History and Community
Kells is a town of historic importance with significant heritage which makes it a unique town in the County. This history and heritage make it an important tourist destination in ‘Irelands Ancient East’ and the Boyne Valley. Kells has a strong community base with a number of community, social, sporting, business, historic, cultural and education orientated groups. Consultation with these groups and the wider local community is a very important element of the plan process and the information gathered will shape and inform the new plan.
It is the objective of the Meath County Development Plan 2021-2027 to secure the consolidation and development of Kells as a Self-Sustaining Growth Town. A number of opportunities are outlined in the County Development Plan which are of relevance to the preparation of this plan as follows:
- “There is a vibrant arts and cultural sector in Kells that has helped to support a number of high-profile international film and literary festivals. Tapping into this resource will provide an opportunity for Kells to develop as a cultural hub that would generate employment opportunities and strengthen community identity in the town.
- To continue to work closely with local businesses in improving the town centre by participating in projects such as the ‘Kickstart’ Scheme, which was a national pilot project funded by the Irish Walled Town Network that supported local businesses in painting buildings and carrying out minor conservation repairs.
- To encourage and support proactive development on vacant sites which would improve vibrancy in the town and bring under-utilised lands back into use.
- There are opportunities to continue to develop and promote Kells as a tourist destination in the Boyne Valley Tourism Region by supporting enhancements to the public realm and investment in tourist related activities.”
The focus of the Plan and the proposed actions will be on the town centre and immediate surrounds. (The accompanying maps shows the main focus of the study area.)
This is a very exciting project for Meath County Council who have also engaged the services of BDP Landscape Architects Consultants to assist us in preparing the Plan. The preparation and implementation of the Plan will address many of the issues which are viewed as blockages to the redevelopment and regeneration of the town centre in Kells. The plan will seek to be the catalyst for the revitalisation of the town centre and surrounding areas. It will also support a continued pattern of development that respects the character of the town. The Council hopes that its implementation will really improve the social, economic and environmental assets of Kells for all who live, work and visit the town.