Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Leo Varadkar speaking at the Cabinet meeting and launch of Project Ireland 2040 at IT Sligo. Picture: James Connolly.
Limerick’s ambitious plans copper fastened by new National Development Plan, Project Ireland 2040
by ilovelimerick correspondent Chloe O’Keeffe
Limerick’s ambitious plans for its rejuvenation and development have been copper fastened with the unveiling of the new National Development Plan as part of Project Ireland 2040.
Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s overarching policy initiative to make Ireland a better country for all of us, a country that reflects the best of who we are and what we aspire to be. Project Ireland 2040 aims to emphasize the social outcomes and values ahead of economic targets. It prioritises the well-being of all the people of Ireland, wherever they live, and whatever their background.
As part of the National Development Plan 2018 – 2027, the government has given permission to Limerick City and County Council, who will be the lead authority on the project, to begin the planning phase of the M20 Limerick to Cork motorway.
The new Limerick to Foynes Road, which includes a bypass of Adare, as well as the Coonagh to Knockalisheen phase of the Limerick Northern Distributor Road are on the list for investment funding.
The plan outlines there will be a bypass of Newcastle West on the N21 and works will be carried out further west on the same road at Abbeyfeale.
Also, soon to benefit from these government advances is the UL Hospitals Group who have been rallying for a relocation for the University Maternity Hospital Limerick to the UHL site, as well as a 96-bed ward block at UHL to the government of the last number of years, “We are delighted to see that commitment formalised [Friday],” spoke Professor Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group.
“The need to increase inpatient accommodation at University Hospital Limerick has been obvious for a number of years,” Professor Cowan remarks, “UL Hospitals Group fully supports the reforms outlined in Slaintecare in terms of a patient-centred, integrated model of care; additional supports for primary and community care; prevention and self-management of disease and hospital avoidance. The most visible impact will be to greatly improve the experience of patients in reducing the numbers waiting for a bed. It will also allow our new Emergency Department, our Acute Medical Assessment Unit, our Surgical Assessment Unit and Surgical Day Ward to function in the manner in which they are designed.”
No less compelling a case is the relocation of the University Maternity Hospital Limerick to the UHL campus. The maternity hospital and its dedicated staff have served the women and babies of the Midwest for almost 60 years but it has long since outgrown its current site. As well as this international best practice requires that maternity units are co-located alongside major tertiary hospitals where women and babies have the assurance by, “provided by ease of access to specialist medical and surgical services for adult and paediatric patients, state-of-the-art diagnostics and access to intensive care and high dependency units,” speaks Professor Cowan.
Professor Cowan spoke of how progress has already been made in terms of the planning and overall design of the 96-bed project, to ensure delays are kept to a minimum once the funding plan and construction schedule have all been arranged. The inpatient block is set to be constructed directly above the new ED, “It will comprise [of] single rooms with ensuites over four floors that will not only make for more comfortable surroundings for our patients but will also provide us with the isolation facilities required for proper infection prevention and control.”
These developments for UHL align with the objectives of the UL Hospitals Group Strategic Plan 2018-2022 which will soon be launching. A strong UHL is good news for Ennis, Nenagh, Croom Orthopaedic and St John’s hospitals as it will allow them to attract the specialist staff that will benefit the group as a whole and also provide services in our model 2 hospitals.
The government has reaffirmed its commitment to funding the Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan to help revitalise the communities through various supports under the three pillars of physical, social and economic regeneration.
Limerick will see an improved public transport system and will also be able to apply for funding to develop projects which will further rejuvenate the city centre through the new €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund.
Projects being developed under Limerick 2030 will be able to source finance from this fund. The towns and villages of Limerick will have an opportunity to benefit from a separate Rural fund worth €1 billion.
The reinstatement of the Limerick-Foynes rail line will take place as part of the overall expansion of the Shannon Foynes Port, while the Shannon Group is to invest around €150 million in its capital programme over the next number of years, to develop Shannon International Airport and tourism facilities across the region.
The development of the city will be helped by the government’s commitment to carry out major flood defence works.
Conn Murray, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council said, “Limerick City and County Council welcomes the commitment by the government to fund our ambitious plans to develop and enhance the city and county. While a strong city is crucial to the development of the region, we recognise and welcome the plans to revitalise rural towns and villages.”
“We look forward to working with our colleagues in Cork, Galway and Waterford to further develop the regions and continue to make them even more attractive for investment and growth.”
Overall the National Planning Framework (NPF) projects that the population of Limerick city and its environs will grow by between 50 and 55,000 people by 2040 to a total population of 150,000 as part of the Project Ireland 2040.
Maria Woods, Senior Planner with Limerick City and County Council said, “One of the aims of the NPF is to address regional imbalance between the greater Dublin area and the rest of the country, however, we are concerned that the plan outlined by the government means that the status quo will remain in terms of population distribution across the country.”
Wellbeing, equality and opportunity represent the core, interdependent themes of Project Ireland 2040. Without equality we cannot have wellbeing: without opportunity, we cannot have equality. The objective of Project Ireland 2040 is to provide a comprehensive social, economic and cultural infrastructure for all our people to flourish so that together we can create a better society. By 2040 we expect that an additional one million people will live in Ireland, an additional two-thirds of a million people will work here.
For more stories on Project Ireland 2040 go here.
For more info on Project Ireland 2040 go here.