28 Sept 2022

IN PICTURES: Progress on €19 million culture and energy Portlaoise projects

Over €19 million is being spent in Portlaoise to enhance the town's culture and cut its carbon footprint.

Ten projects, many of them underway this summer, are hoped to make the Laois capital town a better place to live, work and visit into the future.

Top of the spends is the new Portlaoise library, which at latest estimate will cost €6.5 million plus VAT by the time it opens as expected this winter stocked with books, computers and furniture. 

The landmark building is under construction since 2019, first estimated to cost €3 million not including equipment. The Governement will fund €5.687 million of the cost of the library, with the rest paid from Laois County Council's budget.

Another €12.073 million is being spent on nine projects to enhance the newly named Portlaoise Cultural Quarter and fulfil the Low Carbon Town targets.  The council won over €9 million in Government grants to carry out the projects under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund.

Footpaths and streetlights have been upgraded in Tower Hill, Church Street and Railway Street, costing €490,000.

A 97 space new carpark is being built beside the train station, to be ready by mid 2023, costing €1.491 million.

An outdoor performance and event space is planned inside the Old Fort Protector, with the job to be tendered this autumn, estimated to cost €750,000.

The Laois School of Music's building also inside the old fort is now home to Laois School of Music and Music Generation Laois. It is getting a €1.042 million refurbishment, to modernise its energy rating, heating, accessibility and buildings. 

Old St Peter's Graveyard restoration and conservation work has completed, to be open to the public from this summer. The works cost €200,000.

A sum of €750,000 is set aside for a project that hasn't started yet. The council will spend it creating a new public area at the Old convent site including a Triogue walkway connection, and work on the Halfpenny School.  The work will start at the same time as Sophia Housing starts work on the convent housing scheme. A building contract for that job is expected to be awarded later this year.

Fitzmaurice Place, now the pollinator friendly jewel in the town's cultural quarter, has been completed, to a csot of €474,388.

Four final projects are underway to make Portlaoise Ireland's pilot Low Carbon Town.

The Triogue Way Phase 1 was opened last March, the first stretch of a 3 metre wide fully lit, largely off road pedestrian/cycle way from the schools campus on the Southern Circular route, to Greenmill Lane. Total cost so far is €350,000.

EV electric car charging points are being installed in the town. Six have gone in at the carpark beside county hall, and 15 are planned at the new carpark on Railway Street, to a total cost of €150,000.

The town has now been "substantially retrofitted" with LED streetlights, which cut the energy use by 50%. They cost €1.329 million.

Finally, another €450,000 is to be spent adding or improving cycle lanes for the Dublin Road, Fr Brown Avenue and the Abbeyleix Road.

The updates were given at the July meeting of Laois County Council. They note that Portlaoise is the only town in Laois with a population big enough to qualify for the URDF funding.  

Rural Regeneration and Development Funding was won by the council  for two other Laois town projects.

Portarlington got €1.094 million to refurbish Market House, now at design stage. The old courthouse in Borris-in-Ossory got €212,332 for its refurbishment, at design and costing stage. Both will be for community use. 

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