New weekend Traffic Management Arrangements for Laragh & Glendalough

Weekend traffic management arrangements will be introduced in Laragh to deal with the problems caused by heavy volumes of cars entering the village on Saturday, Sundays and public holidays to visit Glendalough and the surrounding area with effect from 4th June

This pilot scheme will involve:

  • Provision of a free (weekend / public holiday) bus service to connect the Laragh carpark on the R755 and the Glendalough Visitor Centre.
  • Signs to warn drivers when the Upper car park and the Glendalough Visitor Centre car park are full and drivers will be directed to the Laragh car park. This can be accessed by following directional signs provided.

The public is asked to help by:

  • Using public transport options / bicycles where suitable
  • Car pooling with your friends
  • Parking in designated areas only and obeying requests from our carpark staff
  • Not parking illegally on public roads where your vehicle will cause an obstruction to other users/emergency services and may be ticketed / clamped.

Meanwhile, an update on the Visitor Experience & Management Masterplan  for Glendalough and Wicklow Mountains National Park Project Update is below:

Introduction

A multi-disciplinary team led by Consarc Design Group was appointed by Fáilte Ireland in August 2020 to deliver a Visitor Experience and Management Masterplan for Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains National Park and Visitor Orientation recommendations for County Wicklow. The project is overseen by a Steering Group made up of the main state and local government bodies – NPWS, OPW, NMS, Coilte and Wicklow County Council, co-ordinated by Fáilte Ireland.

Aim of the Plan

The aim of the Plan is to improve the visitor experience in Co. Wicklow, in recognition that some areas of the county are already exceeding their optimum carrying capacity causing congestion, damage to the natural environment and disruption to the local community.

The Plan is not about increasing visitor numbers as such but recognises that visitor numbers are growing and likely to grow and so sets out to put in place measures that will; ensure a positive visitor experience, protect the natural built and cultural heritage of the area, prevent unacceptable disruption to the local community, increase and more evenly spread the economic benefits of tourism.

The intention is to look at the full range of visitor attractions and activities in the County but to date the focus has been on active outdoor activities – primarily walking and cycling, and the visitor experience in the Glendalough valley due to the environmental impact and disruption to local communities. There is strong evidence that the marked increase in participation in outdoor activities triggered by the Covid19 restrictions will be a permanent feature .

Issues

An extensive public consultation process was carried out in 2021 and it identified a number of issues in relation to outdoor activities which are mirrored across all types of visitor experience

  • Congestion at key sites
  • Quality of visitor experience below that of other main tourist areas
  • Concerns over security, capacity and quality of car parking and visitor services
  • Erosion and degradation of the environment
  • Lack of awareness of opportunities over the whole county – south west Wicklow in particular under-served and under visited.
  • Negative impacts on the receiving community – anti-social behaviour, cars blocking farm access etc.

Draft Plan

The Draft Plan which was prepared in late 2021 and signed off by the Steering Group in early 2022 includes detailed plans for walking, mountain biking and family cycling which will involve a mixture of enhancing and extending existing provision, investing in environmental impact management and in new provision, especially in off road family cycling which is significantly under-provided for at the moment.

Enhancing the special significance of Glendalough

There is general consensus that the significance and character of Glendalough is eroded by commerce, cars and clamour and so the Draft Plan includes proposals to address this and improve the visitor experience.

The proposals are phased and intended to be introduced incrementally. They involve the enhancement of the monastic site and its landscape setting, fusing together the built and natural heritage values and facilitating visitors to understand the powerful relationship with the natural environment that attracted St Kevin and generations of his followers to the valley in the first place.

Phase 1                An enhanced version of the current situation with the temporary overflow car park provision in Laragh made permanent, a new off road walking and cycling trail between Laragh and Glendalough and the existing Visitor Centre expanded to include the interpretation of the natural environment. Seasonal restrictions for private cars on the road between the Glendalough Hotel and the Upper Lake car park.

Phase 2               Seasonal restrictions on private car access to the Upper Lake car park with a shuttle bus to supplement walking and cycling options, with development of larger and permanent car parks and visitor facilities in Laragh.

Phase 3               Ongoing development of arrival facilities in Laragh as demand merits with the aim of enhancing the overall visitor experience, reducing traffic and pollution in and around the monastic site and lakes and encouraging longer visitor stays. Residents and hotel guest traffic to Glendalough remain as existing.

Finalising the Plan

The Draft Plan is now the subject of three detailed reviews by specialist working groups.

SEA – Strategic Environmental Assessment

Through this process the Draft Plan is subject to detailed assessment by expert Steering Group members. Throughout the Plan development process, potential environmental impacts were considered. That filtered out a number of early proposals and helped shape the Draft Plan. The SEA will be put out to public consultation over this summer as part of the process of finalising the Plan.

Economic Assessment

A separate working group is now preparing the economic appraisal of the Draft Plan. This is a key document to making the case for the considerable capital and revenue investment required to implement the Plan.

Management and Delivery

A key message from the public consultation was that the mechanisms for the ongoing visitor management of the area and delivery of the Plan proposals were essential if the plan was to have public confidence and support. The team have prepared a draft Management and Delivery structure which is being considered by a working party of the Steering Group and the outcome of this will be a key component of the final Plan.

It is hoped to have all these three strands of work completed by early autumn 2022.

For more information email Glendalough@wicklowcoco.ie

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