Tuesday, 15 January 2019
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Regeneration Projects Funding
52. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the amount spent under the national regeneration budget for 2018; the allocations for each local authority that has a regeneration programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54557/18]
The Department supports a programme of large-scale regeneration projects in Dublin, Cork and Limerick and smaller projects in Tralee, Sligo and Dundalk. In 2018, a total spend of €68 million in funding was provided under this programme. The specific amounts provided to the relevant local authorities were: Cork City Council, €4.4 million; Dublin City Council, €17.8 million; Kerry County Council, €3.4 million; Limerick City and County Council, €40.8 million; and Sligo County Council, €1.5 million.
Over the lifetime of Rebuilding Ireland, some €211 million is being made available under the national regeneration programme to support the direct delivery of over 1,000 new social housing homes. Together with providing a significant number of new homes, the projects seek also to address the causes of disadvantage in these communities through a holistic programme of physical, social and economic regeneration. Projects being funded under the programme target the country’s most disadvantaged communities, including those defined by the most extreme social exclusion and high unemployment.
Taking account of that, social regeneration activities in the areas are also funded by my Department for the duration of each regeneration project.
In addition, the projects harness the input of key community groups helping to rebuild communities and strengthen community bonds. I have met some of them throughout the country and certainly in Limerick with the Deputy. The groups driving these projects represent a great addition to the work we are trying to do there.
By adopting this holistic approach, the aim is to ensure that each regeneration project is successful and sustainable in the long term. A good example of what is being achieved in this regard is evident in the Deputy's constituency, which the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, and I have seen at first hand during our visits to some of the high quality housing projects undertaken as part of the Limerick regeneration programme in recent years.
I thank the Minister of State for his answer. I welcome the continuing significant budget for regeneration. In my constituency of Limerick City I have seen the positive fruits of that. The Minister of State and the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, both visited the projects that had been completed.
Is it intended to start any new regeneration programmes or will we just see out the existing ones? For social and economic regeneration it is important to see out the existing ones. We have seen a considerable amount of physical activity, but considerable economic disadvantage remains in regeneration areas, not just in Limerick but also in other parts of the country. Is that monitored and is work continuing in providing opportunities for economic activity in the regeneration areas?
In 2019 nearly €72 million will be spent on existing regeneration programmes. There will be more schemes under the urban regeneration fund to enhance that work and to continue with that even in the years beyond the scope of Rebuilding Ireland because the work we are doing is essential.
The 50 projects that will bring forward the 1,000 new houses as well as the retrofit of other houses are monitored and checked on a weekly basis. The Deputy can also check that online. I believe three or four projects in Limerick are due to start this year and to be completed in 2020 and 2021.
The Deputy is right in saying that it is not just about construction and housing. It is about bringing in new skills, new enterprise opportunities and new job opportunities. There is investment in market-led skills training, in community and social enterprises and in strategic projects, resulting in more than 300 jobs mainly, I think, in Limerick.
The hospitality education and training centre in Roxboro has 250 people progressing from work training into employment. The Deputy would have been involved in that in her time as Minister for Education and Skills. We are trying to encourage more of that.
In Limerick the two key acquisitions of the former Biblical Centre and the opera site have the potential to deliver significant employment opportunities in the future. Their vision is that the redevelopment of strategic sites such as the opera site will facilitate the economic, social and physical regeneration of the city. To this end Limerick City and County Council secured loans of €85 million from the European Investment bank and €85 million from the Council of Europe Development Bank to redevelop the site which was purchased in 2012 for €12.5 million. The adjacent granary building was purchased in 2012 for €3.5 million. It is hoped that these will provide significant opportunity for training and education, but will also create significant jobs and benefit the area.
That is ongoing work as part of the regeneration. While local authorities are driving this regeneration, it is important that every other Department also gets behind it along with the local groups across the sectors. On the basis of my visits to these projects my sense is that that is happening. We want to continue with that work. Housing is only one part of it. Having the physical infrastructure right is very important to drive the regeneration. That is what we are trying to do through the Department's budget.
Most people will know of South Hill and Moyross. While there has been considerable construction in both of those areas, populations have moved. For example, in South Hill, which the Minister of State visited, there are significant housing and other developments at the bottom of the hill. As an area has been cleared, I want to be sure the project will continue to conclusion so that the areas that are now open space will be used for productive purposes to ensure the entire community can benefit from the completion of the regeneration.
I do not have the full details here. Our work in that area is governed by the master plan, which we have been following. More than €360 million has been spent in Limerick over the past six or seven years. We are also absolutely committed to that. Apart from the new homes being delivered, 783 homes have been upgraded. Naturally people are moved. I recently visited a project which is an excellent example of accommodation for older people. Some residents had moved - I do not know if it was up the hill or down the hill - and were very happy with their new homes. It is a great experience to meet them. We are absolutely committed to continuing the work there. We will follow through on that master plan as the best way to do it. About five projects in Limerick are due to start over 2019 and 2020. I presume there are more to come, but those are the ones I have seen in the pipeline of projects which I would be happy to share with the Deputy at some stage. It is also available on the Department's website.