Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan says the new Project Ireland 2040 plan is good news for Portlaoise.
The Laois TD says there will be a new pilot regeneration plan for Portlaoise, a multi-million euro investment in a new courthouse facility at Portlaoise and a 40 bed mental health facility for Laois.
The plan was signed off by Cabinet this lunchtime.
This plan will look at job creation, infrastructure and planning on a structured, clear thinking way over the next 20 years, something no Government has achieved in the past.
Speaking this morning, Minister Flanagan stated: “I really welcome the establishment of a new National Regeneration and Development Agency, using publicly owned land, allied to investment from the urban regeneration and development fund and wider community and local businesses to rejuvenate local communities.
“I’m especially pleased to announce that the very first pilot regeneration project will be undertaken in Portlaoise, where it will create a new vision for the centre of the town, as a demonstration project to show how the best quality planning, urban design and implementation can create ‘turnaround towns’.
“The focus here will be on self -sustaining and community-driven renewal.
“This is very good news for both the town and the county and something I have worked on tirelessly with my Cabinet colleagues throughout the consultation process.
“There is particular reference and focus on Portlaoise in the National Planning Framework, and it is set to directly benefit from a multi- million euro investment which has been ear marked.
“Towns like Portlaoise experienced rapid expansion of new housing areas and retail centres outside the traditional town core during the Celtic Tiger era.
“In fact Portlaoise is the largest town in the midlands, with the population growing by 10% since 2011. However investment in public services has not kept pace with the increase in population.
“In the past number of years there, there has been a shift away from the town centre and Main Street, which was traditionally the core of Portlaoise.
“There is a strong need for a major focus on regenerating the original town centre and main street areas of these towns in order to create a town that has a sense of being lived; a town that is welcoming for visitors whether that is for work, shopping or recreation.
“This multi-million Euro investment is a step in the right direction to achieve a brighter, vibrant future for Portlaoise town and all who live in, work in and visit the area.”
The plan also includes new funds designed to stimulate renewal and investment in rural and urban areas, the environment and innovation including a €1 billion Rural Development Fund.
Minister Flanagan said: “In my own Department of Justice and Equality, there is further investment planned for Laois, in the allocation of funding for a new state-of-the-art multi-million Euro Courthouse complex in Portlaoise.
“This crucial piece of infrastructure will be progressed as a matter of priority, when the procurement and planning process has been completed. It will begin a long-needed process of upgrading the facilities for the Justice system in the midlands and around the country.
“Among the other local projects of particular benefit will be funding for a new 40 bed Mental Health facility to be located in Portlaoise.
“I very much welcome the announcement of this funding for a residential unit aimed at modernising acute mental health care for the region.
“This is a crucial service, and will go some way towards addressing the mental health needs of Laois, Offaly and this part of the midlands.
“I am advised that construction will commence in 2020, with completion in 2022 on the basis that there are no unforeseen delays.
“This announcement represents another step in the right direction.
“I wish to assure you that I am committed to supporting continued improvements in the mental health system and I will continue to work alongside my Government and party colleagues to achieve this.”