The new road that will open up lands at Togher for development and link Clonminam to the motorway through the J17 National Enterprise Park.
A new multi-million road which could open up Laois and Portlaoise for new jobs and economic development is in the final stage of completion and should be open for use by May, according to Laois County Council.
The road will link the National Enterprise Park, the J17 M7 motorway Togher roundabout and Clonminam and Fr Brown Avenue. Costing €3.4 million it will provide immediate access to the Glanbia mozzarella cheese plant that is near completion in Togher. The road will exit near the entry to the new Portlaoise Plaza.
An official update was outlined by the council's Chief Executive John Mulholland in his report to county councillors in January.
“Laois County Council has substantially executed an infrastructure provision contract at the J17 National Enterprise Park (NEP) including transportation, sanitary, telecommunications, electricity and gas services. Laois County Council is now in the process of awarding contracts for the completion of the final road surfacing layer, road markings and traffic route lighting,” said his report.
Mr Simon Walton is the council's Director of Services for Roads, Transportation, Environment, Water Services, Emergency Services. He gave further details of the background and purpose of the plan. He said the road is central to the J17 National Enterprise Park as set out in the J17 National Enterprise Park Masterplan, adopted by Laois County Council in 2018.
“The key objective for the Council in developing the NEP is to stimulate local economic development, support international, national and local enterprise and to promote local employment opportunities thereby reducing the numbers leaving Co Laois daily to pursue employment.
“The access route through the J17 NEP, linking Father Brown Avenue via Clonminam Business Park to Junction 17 of the M7 Motorway, is a key deliverable of the Masterplan.
“The route, just over 2km, provides suitable transport arrangements in addition to direct access to various underground utility services and directly enables the ongoing development of the Junction 17 National Enterprise Park,” he said.
The key objective for the Council in developing the NEP is to stimulate local economic development,
Mr Walton gave details on the cost of the status of the road.
“Laois County Council awarded the main works contract for the delivery of the access route and services to Will Bros (€3.4 million). That contract is now all but completed. At present we have other, separate contracts in place to provide for some of the finishing works such as the final surfacing layer and the installation of public lighting.
"The surfacing and lighting works cost €200k. These works are temporarily suspended arising from the current Level 5 public health guidelines.
“Once it is appropriate to do so the surfacing and lighting contractors will return to the site to complete their works and other, landscaping and signage, works will commence thereafter. Notwithstanding any ongoing completion of those works, it is likely that the route will open for public use in or around early April/May 2021 albeit there are some public health-related uncertainties to that,” he said.
Supermacs has already started trading and is directly serviced by the various underground services provided by the local authority.
“Glanbia will be operational very shortly in similar arrangements and other site sales by the Council have recently concluded and will hopefully proceed to planning consent and site development in the short term,” he said. He added that Panda recycling will also benefit from the new road.
WHAT IS the J17 National Enterprise Masterplan
Laois County Council produced its vision for the J17 National Enterprise Park in a masterplan in 2018.
The plan's aim was to set out a detailed vision for the lands at Togher to deliver a viable economic zone focused particularly on heavy, light and ICT industry, distribution, logistics and other uses associated with the transport industry.
“This has the potential to be a major boost to the economy of Portlaoise and to contribute to the growth of the county and the region as a whole," says the plan.
This Masterplan aims to achieve the following goals and objectives, which are designed first and foremost to deliver the vision for the articulation of the lands as a National Enterprise Park.
• To secure the town’s role as one of the leaders for economic growth in the Midlands area;
• To contribute to the prosperity of Portlaoise by facilitating the provision of adequate land for enterprise, including sites at suitable locations for industrial, enterprise, commercial and where appropriate small business uses having regard to spatial planning, infrastructural, environmental and transportation requirements and compatibility with adjoining land uses;
• To maximise the beneficial return of public investment in the National road network by protecting the safety, carrying capacity and efficiency of such routes;
• To support and protect the existing economic base and seek to diversify the economy through inward investments at key growth areas within the town and the environs;
• To provide a positive gateway into the National Enterprise Park and Portlaoise.
The Council commissioned Arup to prepare an updated Masterplan for the Togher / Clonminam lands to develop and deliver the most effective presentation in terms of layout and design, land management and traffic modelling in the context of the Portlaoise Local Area Plan (2018 – 2024).
The plan is available at www.laois.ie/wp-content/uploads/J17-National-Enterprise-Park-Masterplan-Document-2018.pdf