€1 million boost for Laois town's regeneration

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

New life for historic Laois market house used as garage

Portarlington Market House, long used as a garage, set to become a community hub as part of the town's regeneration

Portarlington's regeneration has been given a €1 million boost with confirmation that just over €1 has been approved for the heritage-led overhaul of the town's Market House and Square.

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys confirmed that the Laois Offaly border town project was among 24 regeneration projects across the country to get a share of the €75million for regeneration.

Her Department said the funding, which is being provided under the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will support the key objectives of Our Rural Future - the Government’s ambitious new policy for Rural Ireland. A total of €1,094,880 is going to the Portarlington project.

The Portarlington project, which will cost €1,216,533, involves the refurbishment and immediate reuse of the Market House located in the centre of the town.

"The Market House will be reimagined as the central focus of the town with a range of public and community uses including community meeting space and an event and exhibition space.

"The project will regenerate a key focal point within the town, acting as a launching point for further regeneration and redevelopment in the town centre," said a description published by the department.

Announcing the funding today, Minister Humphreys said: “These projects will breathe new life into towns and villages across the country making them attractive and vibrant places for people to live, work, socialise and raise a family.

The project is one of the elements in the new plan for Portarlington which is set to be revealed for public consultation shortly.

Senator Fiona O’Loughlin welcomed the funding.

“The Market House will be reimagined as the central focus of the town with a range of public and community uses including community meeting space and an event and exhibition space,” said Senator O’Loughlin.

The Department of Rural and Community Development’s Rural Development Investment Programme includes a number of integrated funding interventions:

·        Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF)

·        Town and Village Renewal Scheme

·        CLÁR

·        Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme

·        Local Improvement Scheme

·        LEADER

·        Walks Scheme

ABOUT The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund was established to deliver on the National Strategic Objective in the National Development Plan 2018-2027 of Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities and will be rolled out over a 10-year period. The Fund is administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The Fund provides investment to support suitable projects in towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000, and outlying areas, which will deliver on the National Strategic Objective of Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities and achieve sustainable economic and social development in these areas.

Calls for applications to the Fund are sought under two categories. Category 1 relates to projects with all necessary planning and consents in place and are ready to proceed, while Category 2 relates to projects which require further development to become ready for Category 1 status.

The funding for projects announced today relates to the outcome of the third call for Category 1 applications, which closed in December 2020.

The 24 projects announced today are located all across the country and will: deliver town and village regeneration; repurpose derelict, disused or heritage buildings; deliver remote work and enterprise spaces; build or transform libraries; deliver tourism infrastructure; and generally support greater activity, footfall, business and residency in rural towns and villages and their hinterlands.

To date, the Fund has provided €243 million for 163 projects across Ireland, worth a total of €326 million.  

The Department’s new rural development policy, Our Rural Future, was launched on 29 March.  The policy is the most ambitious and transformational policy for rural development in decades.

The funding from the RRDF is provided to further the aims of Our Rural Future, which highlighted the need to build strongly on existing investment and to strive for even greater ambition to achieve significant and rapid progress on the objective of balanced regional development.