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New €2.3 million Rural Development Fund can help deliver an additional investment of €15 million

Pictured is Lough Gur, which will benefit greatly from the Rural Development Fund. The Rural Development Fund has the potential to leverage additional funds for the projects of around €15 million, highlighting the commitment Limerick City and County Council is making to towns and villages across the county.

New €2.3 million Rural Development Fund can help deliver an additional investment of €15 million

Limerick City and County Council has announced the allocation of its €2.3 million Rural Development Fund which will target key projects across rural County Limerick.

The fund has the potential to leverage additional funds for the projects of around €15 million, highlighting the commitment Limerick City and County Council is making to towns and villages across the county.


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Coupled with other funding streams already announced such as the LEADER funding of €9.3 million, Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) of €3.8 million, Hinterland funding of €3 million and other funding schemes (€5 million), a total of around €40 million is due to invested into rural parts of County Limerick over the new few years.

The €2.3 million Rural Development Fund allows Limerick City and County Council to develop a more coordinated and strategic approach to supporting rural communities in key strategic projects, town and village renewal, dereliction and rural tourism in co-operation with Ballyhoura Development and West Limerick Resources.

The completion of these projects will result in additional investment and economic activity in the local areas and will benefit the local communities and meets the goals and aims of the Limerick Local Development Strategy (Rural Development Strategy) and the Local Economic Community Plan (LECP).

The €2.3 million Rural Development Fund has been agreed by the councillors as part of the annual budget process over the past number of years, with just over half a million euro from the budget being allocated to Ballyhoura Development and West Limerick Resources as a contribution towards their work.

Among the projects being funded include:

Extension of the Greenway from UL to Montpelier. Funding is provided to commence the process of extending the greenway from UL to Montpelier via Castleconnell.  The proposed route will go through the village of Castleconnell, which will result in economic regeneration for the village, while it also lends itself to the possibility of working with Waterways Ireland in strategic locations along the route to create a blueway amenity.

Newcastle West Regional Athletics HubThe project stemmed from a local group representing a cross-section of athletics and related activities, for Limerick City and County Council to consider purchasing a site and developing a Regional Athletics Hub.  A 9.44-acre site was purchased in the townland of Cloonyscrehane, Newcastle West on the R522 Dromcollogher road and it was proposed that the Newcastle West Regional Athletics Hub should strive to the Gold standard on a phased basis. This will allow for the facility to get up and running in the short term and move on to catering for the county, provincial and national events over the long term.

Incorporation of Barnagh Tunnel into existing Great Southern Greenway Limerick: This will be the latest development of the Great Southern Greenway Limerick since it was brought under the control of Limerick City and County Council in recent years.  The project involves the installation of an underpass under the N21 to allow the Barnagh viewing area link up with the GSGL through the Barnagh Tunnel.  This will increase the safety of those using the GSGL who cross the N21 to the Barnagh viewing/ picnic area and Tunnel.

Lough Gur Bourchier’s Castle: Bourchier’s Castle is seen as a key structure in the potential visitor experience at Lough Gur.  The castle is the most iconic building at the east shore of the lake. While access is currently restricted, limited works have been on-going over the years.  Maintenance works need to be carried out on the castle and an associated building, which may be from the 17th century. The overall aim is for Bourchier’s Castle to become the flagship building in Lough Gur in the future.

Stone Mansion Interpretative Centre, KilmallockThe project involves the conversion of the stables, courtyard and the central Victorian building at the rear of the 16th century Stone Mansion (National Monument) to create a tourism hub, interpretative centre, café, retail outlet, exhibition area and multi-purpose space and to develop the adjoining plot to provide an on-street entrance and open-air seating space with a medieval garden and outdoor activities for the interpretative centre including access to the medieval town wall to the rear.

Lough Gur Solstice Park: The “Solstice Park” adjacent to the Lough Gur Heritage Centre, would offer a dual purpose space as an environmentally sensitive playground for children during out of school hours and as an area dedicated to rest and relaxation for visitors and community groups during school hours.  To sustain and grow current visitor numbers the addition of facilities for children is of high importance.  The proposed “Solstice Park” would also offer an ideal respite area for visitors with special needs. Architectural plans have been developed to welcome both groups to the “Solstice Park” by offering a lake view bandstand and astronomically related play facilities that would provide an insight into the phenomena that occur on the Summer and Winter Solstices.

The fund also makes a contribution towards ongoing town renewal scheme in Patrickswell and a regeneration project in Askeaton.

Welcoming the allocations, as one of his final duties as Mayor of the City and County of Limerick for 2017-18, Cllr Stephen Keary said: “It is crucially important that Limerick develops in a balanced way.  This Rural Development Fund will help important projects in towns and villages across Limerick access the investment needed to develop and provide the facilities that are expected by locals and visitors nowadays.”

“These new facilities will allow rural County Limerick to grow and develop economically and with all the funding streams almost €40 million is being invested in towns and villages from East to West, North to South Limerick over the next few years, which can only be good for the local communities involved.”

Gordon Daly, Director of Services with Limerick City and County Council said: “This Rural Development Fund shows the council’s commitment to the development of rural County Limerick from an economic and social perspective.  We are focusing on projects which will be of lasting benefit to the people of the localities, but also those from further afield who will visit Limerick.  It is important that these areas have the facilities that will allow them to grow in a sustainable way.”

“The €2.3 million allows the council to leverage additional funding for the projects of around €15 million from other sources such as Fáilte and Tourism Ireland and the government, meaning we can build critical mass when it comes to the realisation of the aims of the council and the local communities.”

This funding does not include the ongoing commitment that Limerick City and County Council has in relation to social housing in County Limerick, the upgrading and improvements in the county’s road network and the new Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

 

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