Latest Laois News: Portlaoise ‘Low-Carbon Town’ funding announced with other Midlands projects

Latest Laois News: Portlaoise ‘Low-Carbon Town’ funding announced with other Midlands projects

Ministers O’Brien and Burke announce €25.8 million for Regeneration Projects 

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:

  • Portlaoise: A placemaking project for a Low Carbon Town Centre (Laois County Council) – €9 million
  • Camlin Quarter Regeneration (Longford County Council) – €10.44 million
  • Tullamore Urban Regeneration Development 2020 (Offaly County Council) – €2.25 million
  • Athlone Town Centre Regeneration and Enhancement (Westmeath County Council) – €4.13 million

The department will now contact the local authorities on the next steps regarding funding. The projects announced today will augment the existing pipeline of 87 URDF-supported projects across the country for which just under €300 million has been allocated. Details of the provisional funding allocations for URDF projects in other Project Ireland 2040 investment regions not already announced will be announced in the coming weeks.

photo of an icy Market Square in Portlaoise
‘Low-Carbon’ status awaits for Portlaoise

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.

Minister Pippa Hackett had this to say about the announcement:

“This is excellent news for the four Midlands towns receiving funding. It’s really exciting to see Portlaoise designated Ireland’s first low-carbon town with more EV charge points, more cycle lanes, and a better public realm. It leads the way for how our towns will function in the years to come and I’m looking forward to seeing the completion of the Cultural Quarter there.

“The regeneration of Tullamore is also underway and today’s announcement of additional funding will complement the works already done, such as the remote working hub, the urban garden and the civic space at the Community Arts Centre. It’s all part of the strategic vision for Tullamore.”

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.”

photo of lower Main Street in Portlaoise
The vision of Portlaoise as a low-carbon town edges closer to reality

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.