Multi-purpose facility planned for Barracks

Longford town's Connolly Barracks site looks set to be divided into a range of community orientated structures instead of one overall facility, it has emerged.

Longford town's Connolly Barracks site looks set to be divided into a range of community orientated structures instead of one overall facility, it has emerged.

Unlike its County Monaghan equivalent which is to be turned into a state-of-the-art education campus, councillors learned this week of plans to turn the barracks into a chain of interlinked "zones of development" subject to approval from Minister for Defence Tony Killeen .

These include an education and trainng campus, an arts, crafts and food produce facility, community, innovation and civic use amenities with separate multifunctional and public open space features.

County Mayor Cllr Paul Connell brought the proposals drawn up by the Midland Regional Authority to Minister Killeen when he along with Town Mayor, Cllr Christy Warnock and a number of other representatives from the local political and business sectors held talks at Government Buildings.

In its detailed 20 page document handed out to councillors at the monthly meeting, the Midland Regional Authority said it was essential any new facility carried a strong multi-functional emphasis.

Senior strategists also said the need to rejuvinate the site was "urgent" given that it was almost 12 months since its enforced closure and called on Longford Town and County Councils to safeguard its future by shaking hands on a lease/purchase arrangement with Mr Killeen's department.

Depending on the outcome of the discussions with the Defence Minister this week, Director of Services Frank Sheridan said he had earmarked the first half of January for a joint meeting of Longford Town and County Councils over funding requirements going forward.

Cllr Peggy Nolan said the study marked a significant step forward and was one which could not have been made without the input of Mr Sheridan and county manager, Tim Caffrey.

"At the time when all of this was first talked about, we didn't have any funding and there was a big question mark over who was going to pay for this feasibility study. The concept of bringing the barracks under different stages (zones of development) is going to give something special to this county town and its future generations," she beamed.

Cllr Denis Glennon was just as vocal in his support of the study, adding that the barracks was steeped in historical folklore and would offer a timely stimulant to the local economy.

"I think this is a huge opportunity, I really do," he told the chamber on Monday evening. "I am especially delighted too that arts and crafts have been included. It (barracks) is of huge importance."

No final decision as to the exact cost of the redevelopment is expected to emerge until the New Year when council officials meet and begin to thrash out ways in which to bring the Midlands Regional Authority's proposals to realisation.

Connolly Barracks should be transformed into a multi-functional

facility, a newly compiled feasibility study has shown.