Exhibition space to be part of new Fair Street
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