WORK to create a permanent outdoor dining space in Killarney town, with a pedestrianised, covered area at Kenmare Place, is in response the public demand, the State body spearheading the project has stressed.
KillarneyToday.com reported yesterday that Fáilte Ireland has allocated €604,505 for the development while €292,118 has been approved for a similar project at the boatyard in Dingle.
The two Kerry projects are among 38 permanent outdoor dining facilities to be developed in 19 counties nationwide, at a cost of just under €9 million.
And although there has been some local criticism of the plans, with some suggesting that the money would be better spent on alleviating traffic congestion or improving dangerous junctions, the Fáilte Ireland funding was ring-fenced for exclusive use under the Weatherproofing and Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme.
Local authorities were invited to apply for funding to develop streets and public spaces to facilitate year-round weather-proofed outdoor dining in urban tourism centres.
“We have learned during Covid-19 that people want the option of dining outdoors. This scheme will make dining areas suitable in a wider range of weather conditions so that they can be used for longer periods of the year, helping businesses towards sustainable recovery,” Fáilte Ireland said in a statement.
“This will build on strengthening the outdoor dining offering around Ireland,” it added.
Several areas in Killarney were assessed to determine suitability for the scheme before Kenmare Place was deemed the most appropriate.
To qualify for funding, projects had to be located in permanently or partially pedestrianised streets which must remain that way for a period of at least five years.
The chosen area has to contain a variety of businesses offering outdoor dining with a broad appeal to tourists at lunchtime and in the evenings and a minimum of three separate businesses should be in a position to benefit.
The 620sq metre architect designed area will feature a mixture of a retractable roof and umbrella shades and it will be screened from the roadway by a toughened glass screen and a one-metre high limestone-clad barrier.
It will feature paving, landscaping and lighting with 210sq metre area covered for dining purposes.
Work on the development of the area is already underway and it is expected to be ready by November 30.