Portlaoise is to be the first town to get funding for an urban regeneration under the government's newProject Ireland 2040 Plan.
Laois TD and Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, welcomed last Friday's announcement of the Project Ireland 2040 plan, signed off by Cabinet.
It aims to cover job creation, infrastructure and planning on a structured way over the next 20 years.
Minister Flanagan welcomed the idea for the new National Regeneration and Development Agency.
“It is using publicly owned land, allied to investment from the urban regeneration and development fund and wider community and local businesses to rejuvenate local communities,” he said.
He said the pilot project will take place in Portlaoise.
“It will create a new vision for the centre of the town, to show how the best quality planning, urban design and implementation can create “turnaround towns. This is very good news for both the town and the county.” the Minister said.
“Towns like Portlaoise experienced rapid expansion of new housing areas and retail centres outside the traditional town core during the Celtic Tiger. Portlaoise is the largest town in the midlands, with the population growing by 10% since 2011. However investment in public services has not kept pace,” he said.
“There is a strong need for a major focus on regenerating the original town centre and main street areas... to create a town that is welcoming for visitors for work, shopping or recreation. This multi-million Euro investment is a step in the right direction to achieve a brighter, vibrant future for Portlaoise,” he said.
The plan includes funds for rural and urban areas, the environment and innovation including a €1 billion Rural Development Fund.
He noted the investment by the Dept of Justice in Laois, in a new county courthouse listed in the plan .
“This crucial piece of infrastructure will be progressed as a matter of priority, when the procurement and planning process has been completed. It will begin a long-needed process of upgrading the facilities for the Justice system in the midlands and around the country,” he said.
Also welcomed in the plan is a new 40 bed Mental Health facility in Portlaoise.
“This is a crucial service, and will go some way towards addressing the mental health needs of Laois, Offaly and this part of the midlands.
“I am advised that construction will commence in 2020, with completion in 2022 on the basis that there are no unforeseen delays,” Minister Flanagan said.
”This announcement represents another step in the right direction. I am committed to supporting continued improvements in the mental health system and I will continue to work alongside my Government and party colleagues to achieve this,” the Laois Minister said.