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25 Jun 2022

Offaly Councillor welcomes progress on Banagher Regeneration Project

Offaly Councillor welcomes progress on Banagher Regeneration Project

Cllr Clare Claffey from Banagher, at the Banagher Marina.

CLLR Clare Claffey has warmly welcomed the approval of €150,000 match funding from Offaly County Council for regeneration projects in Banagher. The funds will be used as match funding for the Banagher Regeneration Project, which has been allocated €395,250 under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, announced in 2020. 

The project includes the development of an Architectural and Tourism Masterplan for Banagher Marina and the area around it, including appraisal of use of vacant buildings, design of marina enhancement projects, which may then be submitted for funding under future rounds of the RRDF. 

The project also plans to carry out an appraisal, design and propose remedial works for the Shannon Hotel site, a prominent derelict site close to the Marina, to prepare for future capital investment. The Shannon Hotel was once a beautiful, thriving building. Last Summer Cllr Claffey pointed out that it was bought by a Vulture Fund, which sat on the hotel for many years during which nothing was done, and it fell into a bad state of dereliction. During the Autumn it was bought from the vulture fund by a local buyer and hopes are now high for a positive future for the building. The building is a protected structure.

Cllr Claffey said an Architectural and Tourism Masterplan for Banagher Marina and Environs will be drawn up in partnership with local stakeholders including Banagher Development Group, local businesses and residents. She welcomed the co-operation between the local authority, local development groups, businesses and the wider community that led to the success of the application. 

“This project will involve a plan for the area around the marina including use of derelict buildings and redevelopment of the Shannon Hotel site. It’s great news for the town and I’m delighted to be working with Council officials and the Banagher community to progress the upgrading of our town. There has been some public consultation already and the consultants are now working with stakeholders to draft the plan. I would invite anyone who would like to comment or be involved, to contact me. This project will regenerate the town of Banagher and make Banagher and the surrounding area a more attractive place to live, work and visit.”

The project will be funded by the Rural Regeneration Fund – a central government fund, with matching funding from the Local Property Tax. A disagreement arose in the Council Chamber during discussion of the use of Local Property Taxes to match RRDF Projects across the county.

Claffey said “As the Banagher project will be funded by the Rural Regeneration Fund – a central government fund, with match funding from Local Property tax, some councillors suggested that Banagher should not be getting this development as I had voted against increasing the Local Property tax Rate. I was horrified that elected representatives of Offaly County Council want to penalise the people of Banagher for the fact that I listened to the voices of my constituents.  

“Local Property Tax was increased in Offaly this year despite my voting against it. I am glad this money is being used to fund local regeneration projects and I think it is a good idea to show people where their property tax is being spent, but it’s important to remember that all money committed by Government is in fact the money of the people, raised in taxes, no matter what the specific source. So I’d like to see us cut out the petty squabbling and get on with working together for the good of our communities.” 

The Banagher Regeneration project gives an unprecedented opportunity to deliver the scale of investment necessary to allow a rural community to further develop and prosper. This investment is more important than ever to help address the challenges arising from the Covid-19 crisis and to drive economic recovery and sustainable development in rural areas.

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