New projects will make Tullamore 'premier town in the Midlands' once again

Ger Scully

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Ger Scully

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editor@tullamoretribune.ie

Offaly town set to retake 'premier position' in the Midlands

A plan is to be drawn up for the development of the canal harbour in Tullamore

TULLAMORE is reaping the benefits of the “vision” of councillors to increase the property tax, a move described as “instrumental” in securing regeneration funding of €2.25 million.

Cllr Frank Moran said councillors took a “tough decision” to hike the tax but could now “look at the rewards” when welcoming the allocation at last week's meeting of Tullamore Municipal District.

Director of Services, Tom Shanahan outlined the local property tax had been instrumental in securing the grant as Offaly County Council had to provide matching funding of €700,000 to draw down the investment.

A new road linking O'Connor Square to Church Street is one of the developments which has benefited from this grant funding

Other projects funded include a link from High Street to the Tanyard and the creation of a civic space to complement the Community Arts Centre currently under constructions.

The grants will also fund the completion of the Tullamore Harbour Development Options Viability Appraisal Masterplan.

Repairs and restoration works on Acres' Folly are also being funded under the Tullamore Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).

Mr Shanahan stressed the council will be “trying to advance these projects as fast as we can but we will have to seek approval for each stage.”

He added that the Tanyard link was the easiest to progress and predicted work should commence once the Covid restrictions were lifted in April. “Then we will move onto the Church St link,” he added.

Hailing the allocations Cllr Neil Feighery said the fund was originally set up by the last Government to bring new life into towns and to allow the “hearts of our towns to thrive.”

Cllr Sean O'Brein said the grant was “great news for the town and county during these bad times.”

He predicted that the new projects planned would “put Tullamore back as the premier town in the Midlands.”

“When this work is completed over the next three to four years we will have a fantastic town centre,” said the Independent member.

Echoing the sentiments, Cllr Tony McCormack said “it's great to see us coming back on the map again and regaining our rightful place as the leader in the Midlands.”

He added the council would not have got these grants only it had provided matching funding.

Cllr Declan Harvey predicted the redeveloped Grand Canal harbour would be the “jewel in the crown” of Tullamore in the future.

He also welcomed work to Acres Folly but said residents were still looking for a fence there.

“It's great to see Meath Lane being opened up . . . as young fellow we used to play around there,” recalled the public representative.

Cllr Harvey also appealed to the council to be sympathetic to businesses in the town centre which provided on-street dining facilities.

Also welcoming the projects, Cllr Ken Smollen said the canal had the potential to bring a lot of tourists to Tullamore.

“The future is looking exceptionally bright for Tullamore,” he declared.

Cllr Smollen said a reduction in commercial rates should be looked at to encourage new businesses to Tullamore and to ensure existing ones reopened.

Cathaoirleach Cllr Danny Owens predicted Tullamore will look beautiful in a couple of years time when the projects are completed.

The Tullamore Urban Regeneration Development 2020  aims to facilitate compact and sustainable development in Tullamore town centre and supplement the Public Realm works carried out, a statement from the council announcing the funding pointed out last week.

The funding will finance the completion of a framework for delivery of future integrated urban developments for Tullamore by both the public and private sectors.

The council statement said that the “complementary projects [being funded] form an integrated package.”

“Together they build on the strategic vision for Tullamore town centre,” said the statement.

The  €2.25 million  in approved funding is in addition to  €3 million  in approved URDF funding for the ‘Tullamore Urban Area’ project funded prior to this allocation and brings total URDF funding approved to date to €5.25 million.