08 March 2021
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, and the Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke TD, today announced €25.8 million in funding for four regeneration projects in Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath. The projects are being funded under ‘Call 2’ of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF). The URDF part-funds projects aimed at enhancing urban areas to make them more attractive places in which to live, work, visit and invest. The four local authorities, which will deliver these multi-annual projects, will receive this funding.
The projects for which URDF support have been approved are:
All selected projects support the National Planning Framework’s ‘national strategic outcome’ of compact growth, a particular focus of the second call for URDF proposals. The URDF aims to facilitate a greater proportion of residential and commercial development, supported by infrastructure, services and amenities, within the existing built-up areas of larger urban settlements.
Announcing the provisional allocations this morning, in advance of visiting the Camlin Quarter site this afternoon, Minister O’Brien said: “This funding will support projects that will enhance the quality of life for many people. The projects are all about making these areas more attractive places in which to live, work, visit and invest. These four projects will deliver improvements to commercial areas and civic spaces and will help transition towns to low-carbon living, one of the National Planning Framework’s national strategic outcomes.
“Funding will be a catalyst for regeneration, development and growth. It will also provide much-needed economic stimulus and job creation in Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath as our economy emerges from the depths of the pandemic.”
Minister Burke, who will visit the Camlin Quarter site with Minister O’Brien today said: “Today’s announcement is good news for the Midlands. Its central location positions it to attract significant investment. But investment will need to be supported by the offer of a high quality of life for those living in urban areas. The Camlin Quarter Regeneration project, which includes initiatives to create a greater sense of place – something the IDA considers essential for attracting investment – and works to enable compact urban development, is a superb example of regeneration to support investment. Works on the ‘Providers Building’ will enhance Longford town’s economic offering.”
“On the other hand, the Athlone Town Centre Regeneration and Enhancement project is a good example of the URDF helping a local authority to unlock the potential of a derelict site after detailed planning and project design. The project’s streetscape works will enhance the town’s commercial offering.”
Minister O’Brien added: “Compact growth was the focus of this round of URDF funding. The projects the Government is funding are geared towards sustainable growth of our urban settlements, supported by jobs, houses, services and amenities, as envisaged by the National Planning Framework. As well as compact growth, the fund supports our other national planning aims. In that sense the URDF is a unique approach to Government funding. Whilst many funds are for specific projects, the URDF funds a diverse set of integrated projects with integrated aims. I look forward to working with Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath County Councils to progress these projects.”
The projects were chosen after a rigorous assessment process, overseen by a project advisory board consisting of Government departments, State agencies and national and international experts in areas such as building, architecture and planning. In total, the department received 76 project proposals. Each local authority submitted at least one application. Today’s announcement honours the Programme for Government commitment to continue the URDF.
Note to editors
Laois County Council project
Portlaoise: A placemaking project for a Low Carbon Town Centre - €9 million
Portlaoise is Ireland's first designated ‘Low Carbon Town’. This project will complement and build on the implementation of other ‘Low Carbon Town’ developments under the existing ‘Call 1’ project.
The ‘Call 1’ project is delivering cycle routes, E-Car charging points and low energy public lighting. This new project will also augment work underway on the Cultural Quarter project (funded under ‘Call 1’ of the URDF).
The ‘Call 2’ project includes:
The €9 million in approved funding is in addition to €9.06 million in approved URDF funding for two projects ‘Portlaoise – A Cultural Quarter’ and ‘Portlaoise – A Low Carbon Town’ (‘Call 1’ projects).
Total URDF funding approved to date: €18.06 million
Longford County Council project
Camlin Quarter Regeneration - €10.44 million
This project involves the development of connections between critical functions of the town core to promote sustainable mobility, social equity and environmental integrity. This project aims to address long standing legacy issues in order to create an attractive environment for living, commerce and investment.
Utilising the Camlin River as a spine, the project will increase access to the positive social, economic and environmental influence and reach of the Albert Reynolds Peace Park and its facilities.
The project’s main focus points are:
The €10.44 million in approved funding is in addition to €2.99 million in approved URDF funding for the ‘Longford Connected (Public Realm Market Square)’ project, funded under ‘Call 1’.
Total URDF funding approved to date: €13.43 million
Offaly County Council project
Tullamore Urban Regeneration Development 2020 - €2.25 million
This project aims to facilitate compact and sustainable development in Tullamore town centre and supplements the Public Realm works carried out under the existing ‘Call 1’ project. This project comprises:
The €2.25 million in approved funding is in addition to €3 million in approved URDF funding for the ‘Tullamore Urban Area’ project, funded under ‘Call 1’.
Total URDF funding approved to date: €5.25 million
Westmeath County Council project
Athlone Town Centre Regeneration and Enhancement - €4.13 million
This project involves public realm and streetscape enhancement works to unlock the potential of a derelict prominent town centre site. This project is the follow-on capital element to the planning and design project supported by the URDF under ‘Call 1’.
The works in the ‘Call 2’ project consist of:
The €4.13 million in approved funding is in addition to €6.41 million in approved URDF funding five projects funded under ‘Call 1’. Those five projects are:
Analysis of Midlands needs
The location of the Midlands is strategically important, bordering both the Northern and Western, and Southern Regions. Its central location in Ireland can be leveraged to enable significant strategic investment to a greater extent than is leveraged at present. This investment needs to be supported by a sustainable pattern of population growth, with a focus on strategic national employment, infrastructure development, quality of life and a strengthening of the urban cores of county towns and other principal settlements.
Urban Regeneration and Development Fund