The State is to plough almost half a billion euro into revitalising and transforming the city centres of Cork and Limerick.
In Cork, the vision of a new waterfront precinct in the docklands, which has been earmarked for homes, amenities, and offices for up to 20,000 people, has taken a giant leap forward.
It secured the largest slice of the €1.3bn allocation from the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) announced yesterday.
Some €353m will be ploughed into the delivery of infrastructure, including roads, cycleways, bridges and parks, to prime the 146-hectare region — one of the largest brownfield urban regeneration sites in Europe — for development.
In Limerick, around €116m will be invested in the development of its waterfront, with more pedestrian and cycling links and a new pedestrian bridge across the Shannon.
Regional towns including Killarney, Tralee, Ennis, and Tipperary are also in line for major funding for a raft of regeneration works.
- €353m to fund infrastructure and parks works in Cork's docklands region;
- €73.4m for a new River Shannon waterfront in Limerick;
- €47m for the transformation of Cork's Grand Parade, to include a revamp of Bishop Lucey Park, and a new city library;
- €42.6m for the Living Limerick City Centre initiative;
- €16m for works in Killarney;
- €15.9m for regeneration works in Tralee;
- €9.5m for regeneration works in Nenagh, including a 10-hectare brownfield site at Martyr's Road;
- €5m for regeneration works in Mallow town centre;
- €4m for regeneration works in Ennis town centre;
- €817,500 for the Passage West, Ringaskiddy, Carrigaline harbour cluster, for greenways and parks.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin made the announcement in the heart of Cork's docklands. He said that Cork, which has been earmarked by the Government to be the fastest-growing city region in the State over the next decade, has secured €405m for four urban renewal projects in the city and county.
He described the allocation to the docklands project as "transformative".
“This is funding for infrastructure works to take place that are an essential pre-requisite for other development to take place," he said.
“It reflects the Government’s commitment to really developing what we term the regional cities to rebalance economic development on the island, to ensure that the cities get the necessary resources to really develop the infrastructure."
While the docklands got the largest slice of funding, almost €50m has been allocated to the regeneration of the city's Grand Parade area, where Bishop Lucey Park is set for a facelift, and a new city library and a boardwalk are to be built.
"Today we see that ambition eventually being backed by solid investment," he said. "The docklands regeneration will provide jobs and homes to tens of thousands of people and make Cork a world-class city to live and work in — supporting the Government’s ambition to develop the city as a true counterbalance to Dublin."
City council chief executive Ann Doherty said the funding announcement would bring further certainty to the private sector, which is demonstrating huge confidence in the docklands region.
However, Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said it was essential that the State gets the regeneration of this region right.
"It is important that we fast-track the provision of a first leg of the light-rail scheme, to be delivered side by side with residential development in the docklands," he said.
"We must also ensure that it is sustainable and viable to build housing, and particularly affordable housing, in this area. It cannot be out of reach of the ordinary citizens of this city."
The Land Development Agency plans to open offices in Cork and Limerick soon to help unlock State-owned land for housing. Cork's docklands will be a key focus of its work.
Plans to build a 34-storey, 140-metre, 240-bed hotel and a maritime museum on the historic Custom House site are with An Bord Pleanála. If approved, the hotel will be Ireland's tallest building.
Meanwhile, Glenveagh Homes is awaiting a planning decision from An Bord Pleanála on its plan to develop over 1,000 residential units on the former Ford Distribution site near Páirc Uí Chaoimh.