Fine Gael Cavan County Councillor Trevor Smith and chair of the Ballyjamesduff Community Council Susan Willis.

New businesses breathe life into town

While most of the headlines of late have been about the Council’s ambitious plans to redevelop the former Percy French Hotel as a new Community, Tourism and Enterprise Hub for the town, local councillor Trevor Smith reminds that the “little jobs” deserve just as much attention.

“It’s a big project and news of it has been a big boost for the town,” Cllr Smith says of the Percy French development, which involves the demolition of a portion of the landmark property, along with plans to erect a new two-storey extension along Stradone Street.

On the ground floor of the new Community, Tourism and Enterprise Hub will be a café, including kitchen, reception and associated public areas, community enterprise spaces, ancillary facilities including toilets, storage, new stairs and elevator.The first and second floor will provide multi-purpose rooms associated with the community, tourism and enterprise hub, with the potential to facilitate use as visitor accommodation.

Last year the local authority served a derelict site notice on the Percy French Hotel property, warning the then owners of the need to better manage the site. Subsequently the property was listed for sale, described as having ‘excellent investment potential’.

Cllr Smith was among the first to welcome the decision by the Council to purchase the building, and the local Fine Gael representative was present to rubber stamp planning permission for the project recently.

But perhaps more importantly, Cllr Smith sees the arrival of several new businesses as being key to rejuvenating the town going forward. A new butchers, hairdresser, beautician, phone repair shop and even new crèches, he says, have all breathed “new life” into the local business community.

Some of those new ventures have been established by people who’d previously moved away from the town, something Cllr Smith describes as “encouraging”.

“It’s so important in small towns that we have a viable economy because, without it, the whole thing falls apart. It shows there’s life around the place. The likes of childcare, it’s a growth industry in the town at the moment. It shows that there is a demand, that there are families working locally, and even living locally,” said Cllr Smith.

In addition to the Percy French Hotel project, he points to a large suite of other local authority projects aimed at improving the overall look and flow of the town.

“We had a lot of money spent, on good projects, which might not be immediately obvious but do improve things. On the Oldcastle Road, for instance, we had an important project where a footpath and lighting was installed going out to Liffey Meats, and important industry for Ballyjamesduff. Our the New Inns Road then towards Cavan Box, another great employer, we had new lighting and footpaths installed, and the Council have also tided up the Cavan Road junction at Rassan.

“Also, the Council has invested heavily in improving the recycling and bring centre up at the mart. These may seem like small things, but they have a big impact.”