Mr Cowen confirmed yesterday that the Government had approved funding for the first phase of the Limerick Regeneration Programme, which will see €337m invested in 26 projects.
They will involve the construction and refurbishment of 850 social housing units at a cost of €160m over the next four and a half years. The Taoiseach said funding had been secured from across the budgets of various Government departments. However, he also expressed hope that private investment could be attracted for other phases of the regeneration.
The original masterplan was projected to cost €3 billion, but has been drastically scaled down.
Mr Cowen said the money invested was justified in view of the “blighted lives and reduced potential” which has resulted from the failure of the authorities to plan properly for the Limerick area in the past.
Housing Minister Michael Finneran said the scheme would see new housing, transport networks, schools, primary care health centres as well as recreational and skills training facilities.
Work will begin before the end of the year on new housing projects at Cliona Park in Moyross and at Lord Edward Street in Ballinacurra Weston as well as on a new crèche at St Mary’s Park.
Mr Finneran intends to amalgamate the two regeneration agencies for the city into one body to be led by a new “more strategically focused” board. The Government has agreed to establish a €5m fund each of the next five years to enhance public services.