New proposals by Meath County Council to develop the lands in Athlumney at Spicer’s Bakery, the Ramparts Car Park and Andy Brennan Park
The plans by Meath County Council propose the conservation and renovation of the former Spicer’s Bakery to include new office buildings, a cafe, upgraded public realm and a bandstand. It includes a reconfiguration of the existing Ramparts car park with new access points, cycle parking, public realm area and footpaths. The plans also extend across the road to redevelop Andy Brennan Park with a stepped public plaza at the entrance, including the demolition of four derelict houses.
There are exciting proposals in Andy Brennan Park itself, with some much needed recreational amenities. These include a cycling pump track area, basketball hoops, a parkour area, a viewing area over the Boyne, a canal boat play area and an active play zone.
View: watch a video of the route here (starting from Andy Brennan Park to the Ramparts)
The area will, of course, soon be the trailhead point of the upcoming Boyne Greenway, which is currently in planning to extend from Drogheda to Navan. Navan Cycling Initiative have long identified Andy Brennan Park as an area with huge potential for a greenway and tourism ‘hub’ in Navan, and we eagerly look forward to seeing these proposals progressing. With plans slowly but surely happening for a coherent cycle network, increased civic spaces and pedestrianisation, and ongoing work on Navan’s planned second greenway, there is huge potential for a vibrant and sustainable town centre for all to enjoy.
It is great to see these proposals alongside several points of the River Boyne. The rivers Boyne and Blackwater hold a special place in the hearts of many people in Navan. The confluence of the two rivers at Pollboy Bridge is steeped in history and played a major part in the formation of the town. Yet, at present, they remain largely cut off from the public. These proposals, along with the Boyne Greenway and the ‘river parks’ concept as part of the Flowerhill & Abbeylands Urban Design Plan, will greatly improve peoples connections to these valuable assets and the wider green environmental network across Navan. Our rivers need all the help they can get, and we need to open them up and help support sustainable actions so future generations can care for them.
History and Background
The former Spicers Bakery was part of a mill dating from 1820. The Spicer family were successful millers and bakers who influenced the life of Navan for circa 178 years. The site operated as a bakery from the late 19th century until its closure in 2012, when the site quickly fell into dereliction and became the focus of antisocial behaviour. It was purchased by Meath County Council who recognised it as an important heritage asset in a strategic location in the context of Navan town centre.
The Boyne Navigation Company began the construction of the Boyne Canal in 1748. The company went into liquidation in 1913 and the Spicer family bought the canal in 1915. It was then donated to An Taisce in 1969. The Navigation originally came through into Andy Brennan Park, however it was removed (along with Lock 19, Metges Lock and the weirs) and the area infilled by the OPW as part of the Boyne Drainage Scheme in the 1980s.
Andy Brennan Park, first opened in 1995, was redeveloped with a playground in 2012. According to the Planning Report, the park has failed to reach its potential as a public amenity given its accessible location. The lack of footfall in the park has resulted in a significant level of antisocial behaviour occurring in the area which has compounded the undesirability of the park as a place to recreate.
Andy Brennan Park, heading toward the Ramparts; The Former Spicers Bakery; site location
In order to ensure a plan led approach to this redevelopment, Paul Hogarth and Company Landscape Architects, who also worked on the Flowerhill & Abbeylands Urban Design Plan, were commissioned to prepare an Overall Concept Master Plan. According to the design statement, the vision for area is to “strengthen and develop the area’s existing riverfront heritage assets, environmental resources and social amenities into a dynamic range of vibrant and attractive parkland facilities, ecological protected areas and unique visitor attractions. These are tied together through the development of a site-wide parkland network that connects the site to Navan Town centre to the west, to the Ramparts walk to the east, and to the Boyne Valley trail network that traverses the site and wider region.”
Submissions and observations
While not open to public consultation, submissions and observations are invited relating to the implications of the proposed development for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area concerned, and the likely effects on the environment of the proposed development. Submissions can only be made in writing to An Bord Pleanála, 64 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1, not later than 5.30pm on 13th February 2023. All submissions must be labelled with the following project name: Meath County Council Spicer’s Bakery/Andy Brennan Project, Athlumney, Navan, Co. Meath.