Dáil debates

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Urban Regeneration and Development Fund

9:50 pm

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I am delighted this matter is being taken in the last week of the Dáil session because a decision will have to be made quickly on this important development. It is an iconic development on the North Quays of Waterford. Anyone who is familiar with Waterford will know the South Quays is where most of the development is. The North Quays has been underdeveloped for a long number of years. It provides a tremendous opportunity for positive development and there is a plan to transform the North Quays that, in turn, will transform the heart of Waterford city but also the south-east region.

Investors are prepared to put hundreds of millions of euro on the table to make sure this project is delivered. It will involve a hotel, office accommodation, high-quality accommodation and retail. It must include, and hopefully will include, the relocation of the train station in Waterford city to the North Quays.

I am disappointed the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government is not here because he hosted a meeting last week in his office with all Oireachtas Members with the exception of myself. He took that decision because he said he was only going to meet with, as he put it, or as the local Fianna Fáil Deputy put it, representatives of the Government and those who support the Government. Of the five Oireachtas Members in Waterford, I was the only one not present at the meeting, not by choice, but because I was excluded from the meeting which was unfortunate.

Having said that, I raised this issue on the floor of the Dáíl with the Taoiseach several weeks ago and asked him to raise this with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and, indeed, with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. The funding for this project must come from the urban regeneration and development fund.

The Minister of State is from the south-east region and he will be aware of the iconic nature and importance of this development, not just for Waterford and the south-east region, but also the fact that the ask on the State side and the need for funding from the Government has been on the table for years. This development was put forward several years ago. It is strategic development zone, as the Minister of State will be aware. The ask from the Government side is more than €100 million. It is significant investment but it is obviously an investment that needs to happen if we are serious about Waterford being a gateway city and the driver of economic growth, which it can be, needs to be and is for the entire south-east region.

When will a decision be made to ensure all the funding which is necessary to deliver this project is granted by the Government? A letter of comfort was given to those Oireachtas Members who were at the meeting held by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government last week where he said the Cabinet will make a decision when it comes back in September. Will that decision be the entire quantum of money which is needed? The developers are looking for funding certainty. They have put an awful lot of work into the planning application, the design and into this project. It cannot be a missed opportunity. It is hugely important that this funding is forthcoming. Without that funding from the Government the project does not happen and it cannot be let slip.

Will the Minister of State who is present give a commitment that when the Cabinet discusses this issue, it is the full quantum of money that will be either agreed or not agreed, and that this project can have the funding certainty it needs?


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