CONTRARY to the observations of local restaurateurs, a Health Check Report produced for the Waterford City Centre Management Group by Waterford City & County Council states that footfall trends in 2019 “remain strong throughout the city”.
The document, which covers the period January 1, to June 30 2019, also examines the number of vacant units in Waterford City, the cleanliness of urban areas, accessibility and the number of new planning applications in the city centre.
A company called Electro measures the footfall in Waterford City with counters situated on Barronstrand Street, Blackfriars, George’s Street, John Street, Michael Street, John Street Lower, Henrietta Street, Peter Street, Cathedral Square and Bishop’s Palace. According to the Health Check report, the contract with Electro has come to an end and when a new tender is issued it is hoped that O’Connell Street and the wider Cultural Quarter, and other areas, will be included in future measurements. The Electro’s report for the first six months of this year states that “pedestrian flow around the city is on a par with 2018” and “while there are minor fluctuations between weeks, the trend remains strong”.
An audit of vacant street level vacancies conducted in June 2019 showed 20 vacancies in the city centre (12.3%), with 50% of those vacancies coming from within shopping centres. During the first six months of 2019 three businesses in Waterford City closed – Sam McCauley, Bagel Factory and Chopped, however, Sam McCauley has now been replaced by Mountain Warehouse and the Bagel Factory moved to the unit which had been occupied by Chopped. Additional retail units also opened, including Hanya Café, Le Alegria Café, Express Repair and kiosks within City Square.
Waterford City Centre is ranked 16th out of 40 towns and cities that were recently surveyed by IBAL, with the judges classifying Waterford as the cleanest city. Judges commented that Plunkett Station deserved praise for its overall presentation and The Mall, Barronstrand Street, Hanover Street, George’s Street and the Cultural Quarter also got special mentions. New Street Community Gardens was slated with judges saying that it was “heavily littered and poorly respected to the point that it would be unpleasant to sit in and enjoy”.
205 planning applications were received in the Metropolitan District since the start of 2019, which compares to 182 during the first half of 2018. So far this year there are 24 approved applications relating to businesses in the city area, with a further 15 currently under consideration.