Dáil debates

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Urban Regeneration and Development Fund

9:50 pm

Photo of Malcolm NoonanMalcolm Noonan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I thank Deputy Cullinane for raising the matter. I am fully aware that it is an important project for the south-east region and not just for Waterford city.

The North Quays was subject of a strategic development zone, SDZ, order made by Government recognising the social and economic importance of the site to the State, and designating the Waterford North Quays for mixed-use development, subject to the preparation of an SDZ planning scheme, which has been done.

The national planning framework, launched in February 2018 as part of Project Ireland 2040, includes objectives to achieve both more compact urban growth within Ireland's cities and the significant further development of Waterford city. The urban regeneration and development fund is a flagship element of Project Ireland 2040.

Under the stewardship of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the fund was established to support more compact and sustainable urban development, through the regeneration and rejuvenation of Ireland's five cities and other large towns, in line with the objectives of the national planning framework and national development plan. This is to enable a greater proportion of residential and mixed-use development to be delivered within the existing built-up footprints of our cities and towns and to ensure that more parts of our urban areas can become attractive and vibrant places in which people choose to live and work, as well as invest in and visit.

As part of the first call for proposals under the URDF Waterford City and County Council submitted a bid for Exchequer grant funding in respect of a major multifaceted proposal for the North Quays in Waterford. It is intended that the proposed largely transport-focused infrastructural works will open up the North Quays site, making it more accessible, and ultimately supporting the achievement of the broader objectives of the SDZ planning scheme.

On 26 November 2018, the then Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government announced initial URDF supports of €100 million for a total of 88 projects across the country, including €6 million of initial support for the Waterford North Quays proposal. Furthermore, in June 2019, URDF support of €30 million was ring-fenced in respect of the advancement of the overall North Quays proposal, pending further clarification of the project detail.

The URDF support of the North Quays project, as with all other successful URDF proposals, is approved in principle subject to appropriate appraisal, and justification and advancement in accordance with the public spending code and other conditions appropriate to the approval of very high cost projects under Project Ireland 2040, including the requirements for a cost-benefit analysis of the project to be carried out.

11 o’clock

Since June of last year our Department has been working with Waterford City and County Council with a view to assisting in its advancement and development of the appropriate appraisal of this high-value and complex project to meet the requirements of the public spending code. In that context, on 30 June the council submitted an updated economic and cost-benefit appraisal of its proposals, and this must now be considered by our Department in consultation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform before a recommendation on further whole-project URDF support can be considered.

Our Department has already recouped €5.7 million in respect of costs incurred by Waterford City and County Council on the planning and development of this project, and further funding will be made available as the project advances through its various stages of development.


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