Ex­hi­bi­tion space to be part of new Fair Street

Mid Louth Independent - - NEWS - By ALI­SON COMYN

IN Norse mythol­ogy, Val­halla may have been a ma­jes­tic, enor­mous hall lo­cated in As­gard, ruled over by the god Odin.

How­ever, in Drogheda, it’s a di­lap­i­dated hall which will soon be de­mol­ished as part of the €12.5m up­grade of the coun­cil of­fices in Fair Street to the Drogheda Civic of­fices.

And what­ever hopes the lo­cal coun­cil­lors had of hold­ing their meet­ings in a new ma­jes­tic, enor­mous cham­ber are fad­ing, as there are no plans to re­store it to its for­mer glory.

The Val­halla build­ing is now ear­marked to be lev­elled, to make way for a glazed new en­trance, cre­at­ing a large ex­hi­bi­tion space.

The en­tire project will en­com­pass the pro­tected Fran­cis John­son corn­mar­ket build­ing, the fire-gut­ted for­mer cham­bers and the ad­join­ing com­mu­nity ser­vices cen­tre.

But plans an­nounced in 2009 to build an out­reach cam­pus for Dun­dalk In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and Louth VEC have been aban­doned.

De­tails of the re­vised plans were out­lined in a pre­sen­ta­tion by Gareth McGuire, ar­chi­tect di­rec­tor at BDP, who ex­plained there were sig­nif­i­cant cracks and sub­si­dence in a few the build­ings and the work would be chal­leng­ing.

“One of the big­gest is­sues to date has been the re­moval of guano from the in­te­ri­ors, as well as ma­jor de­bris left from the fire which gut­ted the coun­cil cham­bers al­most ten years ago,” ex­plained Mr Maguire.

“Val­halla and a glass house are un­likely to re­main, as it will be a poor work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for peo­ple and re­mov­ing them will al­low for a larger and brighter ex­hi­bi­tion space.”

Although largely wel­comed, the amended plans did raise some con­cerns amongst coun­cil­lors.

Cllr Joanna Byrne ex­pressed reser­va­tions on the amount of money the ren­o­va­tions will cost.

“I think €12.5. could be bet­ter spent within our bud­get,” she com­mented.

“I would also seek con­fir­ma­tion that the new is­sues with sub­si­dence and de­mol­ish­ing struc­tures would be in­cluded in the orig­i­nal bud­get.”

Fol­low­ing on from his query on what had hap­pened the am­bi­tious plans to have a DkIT cam­pus on the site, Cllr Pio Smith was told ‘they didn’t ma­te­ri­alise’ and would not form part of the plans.

Cllr Paul Bell was also con­cerned about what fa­cil­ity the coun­cil mem­bers would have for their monthly meet­ings, as well as what was in store for mem­bers of the public wish­ing to at­tend.

“When the old cham­ber was de­stroyed by fire, we were told there would be public ac­cess in a new cham­ber, in­clud­ing full dis­abled ac­cess,” he pointed out.

The plans will see the ex­ist­ing coun­cil yard be­come a car park, a public space will be pro­vided for ex­hi­bi­tions or re­cep­tions, and walls will be re­moved to ex­pose orig­i­nal col­umns and cre­ate a corn­mar­ket court­yard with the Fran­cis John­son build­ing.

Big changes planned for Fair Street

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