Longford regeneration plans given multi million euro tonic

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Regeneration

Cllr Luie McEntire, John McKeon, Niall Cussen, Simon Wall, Lorraine O'Connor, Maire Henry Minister of State Damien English and Cllr Seamus Butler.

Longford town's regeneration blueprint has been given a multi milion euro shot in the arm thanks to a new government led drive aimed at breathing new life into its Camlin Quarter.

The finer points of Longford's all new MAPS (Military Assets as Public Spaces) Integrated Action Plan was announced by Junior Housing Minister Damien English on Monday afternoon.

The Fine Gael TD was in town to examine the contents of the Government's €2bn Urban Regeneration and Development Fund which had been officially rolled out just hours earlier.

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The plan is the latest ingredient in its well touted Project Ireland 2040 archetype which will see €100m being made available each year for aspiring towns and urban centres to tap into.

“Today is about bringing the community together to have that focus of starting a plan today and planning for the future and it’s only the people in this room that can make it happen,” he told a room of assembled guests at Longford County Council's head offices.

“Projects like the Integrated Action Plan are vital for our towns and cities and can only be seen as a positie step in making Longford a more vibrant town, a town that makes the best use of all available spaces.

“We want to make your town the place you want to live in, come back and live in the centres of, to live over the shop and to spend time in and to start a business in, to create jobs and to win investment.”

The Meath West TD cited the substantial socio economic strides made by towns like Westport as a case in point.

In a one to one interview with the Leader as he made his departure on Monday, Mr English fended off any lingering talk that the occasion was a a short-term exercise in political optics.

“It’s very significant,” he said, when pressed over the weight members of the public should place on both the overall fund and Longford's regeneration model.

“Westport was a 20 year strategy spending about €200m over that period.

“The question is how you can best can you bring that back into use to form part of the town plans here.

“I would say because of this strategy we launched here today that Longford is ready and is in position to apply for that money.”

He readily admitted the scheme formed part of a wider bid to disperse Ireland's burgeoning population base over the next two decades.

However, Mr English said there was a clear and measured modus operandi in place to ensure towns like Longford reap the richest of economic rewards from URDF during that period.

“ If our towns are planned and logically invested in it makes them a more attractive place for people to live and invest in,” he said.

“Longford has a major part in that. There is great potential here and we want to tap into that and that’s what Project 2040 is about. If you plan for it, it can happen, if you don’t plan for it it won’t happen."