M.CO was engaged by Kildare County Council (KCC) to prepare a Town Renewal Health Check for Kildare Town on the eve of the first of the new series of Town Renewal Health Checks taking place across the country. The objective of this Health Check was to assess the vitality and viability of the town, informing opportunities for regeneration.

Applying our M.CO Lab Cultural Planning methodology, we produced behavioural maps identifying patterns of use; quantitative maps (using ArcGIS) showing vacancy rates, public space, car parking etc., and benchmarked the town against other ‘healthy’ towns using Jan Gehl’s qualitative assessment criteria.

We were also commissioned to prepare a concept and development strategy for an 18-acre site at Cherry Avenue owned by KCC, identified as a key opportunity. Through a stakeholder engagement process which included an online survey, pop-up public information sessions and one-to-one interviews with key stakeholders in the community, the optimal use for the site was defined as a public park.

In parallel, numerous case studies were examined across a range of scales, as well as various policy documents, to inform a business analysis of the best approach to developing the park. Analysis of the site, considering location, physical site conditions, surrounding demographic, existing natural, cultural and recreational amenities was carried out and an operational model for delivery developed.

We produced a series of master-plan concept drawings of the development options, illustrating the multi-phase approach of the development. We worked with consultant Quantity Surveyors to produce an order of magnitude cost report which informed our modelling of development options.

The landscape design was informed by the topography and by the natural heritage of the area, with proposed features including a natural landscape amphitheatre, a 1km circuit track for both bicycles and pedestrians, community gardens with a grow dome, a heritage hub, a skate park and immersive landscape art.

We also proposed the development of an eco-bridge crossing the motorway, connecting the park to the National Stud once more. Following a very successful presentation to county councillors, the decision was made to progress with detailed design of the scheme to prepare it for a full Part 8 planning application by KCC, with a view toward developing the park on a phased basis as funding becomes available.

This is a great example of what can be achieved when a holistic approach is taken to design, focusing on engaging stakeholders in the strategic definition of the project as the crucial first step in any destination development for locals and tourists.