Longford town - Urban Regeneration
Minister announces €14 million for Camlin Quarter Regeneration, creating a vibrant, dynamic and pedestrian-focused town core
Longford County Council is delighted to welcome the announcement of a combined central Government and Longford County Council funded package totalling nearly €14 million for the Camlin Quarter Regeneration Project in Longford town under the government’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).
The funding was confirmed on Monday 8 March by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O'Brien and Longford Westmeath TD and Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning Peter Burke. This ambitious project, together with the already commenced €4 million Longford Connected Project, will completely transform the core of Longford town, increasing footfall from both locals and visitors by improving the commercial environment and attracting future inward investment to address the cycle of economic downturn of recent years.
Cathaoirleach Paul Ross explained “This is Longford’s time to shine. This project represents a visionary approach and is the single biggest government funding investment to come to Longford (€10.44 million plus €3.48 million match funding by Longford County Council), which will take three to four years to complete and will see the culmination of a number of plans for the area including the Camlin Masterplan, which reimagines the area underlining the importance of the Camlin River as a key asset within the town centre.”
The Camlin Quarter Regeneration Project focuses on the northern heart of the town of Longford including both sides of the River Camlin, the area surrounding Connolly Barracks, Church Street, Bridge Street, Lower Main Street, Great Water Street, Little Water Street and the Providers building.
This area has suffered the loss of key commercial services in recent years which has decreased footfall causing overall decline. This project is a series of interventions to re-energise more than 55 acres of the northern town core area. It prioritises the pedestrian experience, celebrates the historic significance of the area and most importantly, will attract sustainable public and private sector investment to stimulate the immediate economy.
Delighted with the news, Chief Executive Paddy Mahon said “This is a vote of confidence by central Government in the ambition shown by Longford County Council to deliver a series of transformative flagship projects for Longford Town that we have been planning since 2018. We remain confident of further largescale central Government supports in the time ahead which will enable Longford County Council to unlock the true potential of Longford town.”
Cathaoirleach of Longford Municipal District Peggy Nolan paid tribute to the Executive of Longford County Council. “I wish to compliment everybody involved in this exceptional achievement. This is the result of five years of working together because together we’re stronger. Nobody knows the needs of the people of Longford better than those who serve and as Cathaoirleach of Longford MD, I want to acknowledge both my fellow Elected Members and the Executive for their dedication and diligence.”
Chief Executive Paddy Mahon emphasised the Council’s commitment to the project and the importance of consultation and collaboration with businesses and communities. He also said “The forward-thinking decision taken by elected members in recent years to increase the Local Property Tax has enabled Longford County Council to take on such ambitious projects and it has perfectly positioned it to deliver this transformative vision for this area. It represents a richly deserved return on investment for the Local Property Tax payer and Commercial Rate payer of Co Longford alike.
Terry Rooney of Longford County Council Regeneration Team said “After so many years of detailed planning, the members of the Regeneration Team are delighted that this funding is now being allocated. The project, which will greatly enhance the investment potential of the area, will set the scene for future projects of scale, planned and proposed”.
Cathaoirleach Paul Ross thanked the Regeneration Team for working tirelessly on bringing the project to this stage. “Today’s announcement is further proof of the Government’s commitment to the rejuvenation of regional towns like Longford. Today is the first step in what will be a transformative time for Longford town. It’s going to change the environment in which we live and work and will continue to make Longford the place to be.”
Longford’s Camlin Quarter sits at the northern end of the town centre, on either side of the Camlin River. Once forming a strong urban axis, with Market Square in the south and Connolly Barracks in the north, the loss of key industries and services in this area significantly decreased pedestrian activity, leading to vacancy, dereliction and general decline. The Camlin Quarter regeneration project seeks to address this imbalance and revitalise this area, with focused interventions at key areas to bring back activity and build on the wealth of existing assets, such as the award-winning Albert Reynolds Peace park (ARPP), to act as a catalyst for future developments and ensure sustainability.
Elements of the plan include:
• The extension of the Albert Reynolds Peace Park to include recently acquired Council lands at Abbeycartron and the extension of pedestrian links established through this area across the Camlin.
• The development of new recreational amenities along the Camlin River, further prioritising the pedestrian experience within our town core and enhancing biodiversity
• Improvements to streetscapes and public spaces around the Connolly Barracks and Church Street area
• Improvements to the Bridge Street Junction, Lower Main Street and down Great Water Street to include the area around the Council buildings
• Planned development in line with the principles of compact urban growth to increase residential occupancy and bring life back into town core
• The refurbishment of the Providers building bringing it back into sustainable and beneficial use and generate activity at this important location
• Improving movement and connectivity in the area by creating a physical link between Strokestown Road and Little Water Street to support revitalisation measures
Camlin Quarter Regeneration is a placemaking initiative that aims to connect existing assets while addressing dereliction, vacancy and use mix to allow the area to reach its full potential in achieving a vibrant, dynamic and pedestrian focussed town core. The project is based on the policies adopted by Longford County Council in the Town and Environs Local Area plan that recognises the strategic importance of the area along the River and aims to strengthen connections between the Canal, the Camlin and the functional areas in between. The Camlin Quarter Masterplan further developed these ideas in consultation with the local community and formed the basis for this project.
Funding was sought for the development of this project under the Urban Regeneration and Development fund (URDF), administered by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The fund is in place for towns with a population of over 10,000 to secure the national strategic objectives outlined under project Ireland 2040. The fund provides for large-scale strategic projects to promote economic vitality, liveability and environmental quality of town centres and to act as catalysts for ongoing sustainable regeneration. The project aligns with the ongoing “Longford Connected” urban realm improvements that received funding from the URDF in 2019 which, when combined with Council resources, will see almost €4 million spent.
The Camlin Regeneration Project is concerned with six strategic areas on either side of the Camlin River, carefully chosen to ensure maximum impact for investment and to build on existing assets. The closure of Connolly Barracks significantly accelerated the downturn of activity in the Camlin Quarter. This project addresses the setting of the Barracks, improving access via Little Water Street and providing a riverside recreation area to extend the reach of the Albert Reynolds Peace park (ARPP) and improve town centre biodiversity. Public Spaces will be transformed at the Barracks Plaza and Church Street, framing its “gateway” position into the town core from the Battery road and as a pedestrian route linking to ARPP and the river.
Improvements are also planned to the Bridge Street Junction, down through Great Water Street and taking in the Council buildings. These will include accessibility to the Riverside and linking existing urban parkland areas with new spaces to encourage a more walkable town centre. Planned development includes targeted housing types in line with the principles of compact urban growth to increase residential occupancy and bring life back to town centres. The ARPP will be extended to include recently acquired Council lands at Abbeycartron and pedestrian links established through this area across the Camlin and onto the existing Slí na Sláinte. Improvements at the existing Mall Complex will further encourage its use as a recreational centre of excellence for the surrounding schools, residential area and town centre users and as a pedestrian network to access town centre services, employment and education.
The project includes the refurbishment of the Providers Building to bring it back into sustainable and beneficial use, acting as an anchor and generating activity at this strategic location. Aligned with the theme of creating strategic links, the establishment of a connection between the Strokestown Road and Little Water Street is a critical element managing movement in the area and enabling its revitalisation.
The project is ambitious in its scale and extent and is required to break the cycle of economic downturn in the area. This is reflected in the three to four-year timeframe and €14m budget allocation, secured through the URDF and matched by Council own resources.
Longford County Council participate in the URBACT European exchange and learning programme that promotes sustainable urban development. An URBACT local group (ULG) was established to identify, develop and drive projects in the Longford area. This group is made up of local representatives, groups and organisations including the Chamber of Commerce and the Gardaí and has significantly contributed to the Camlin Quarter Regeneration project. Completing projects in the areas of Military Areas as Public Spaces (MAPS) and progressing others in the enhancement of urban security (URBsecurity), the ULG continue to feed into town core regeneration.
Longford Connected Public Realm Enhancement Project
RPS Consulting Engineers Limited has been appointed by Longford County Council as the Project Managers and Designers for the Longford Connected Public Realm Enhancement Project. The Project focusses on enhancements to the public realm at Market Square and The Shopping Centre as these form focal points within Longford Town. The Project aims to enhance the pedestrian experience with new and improved surface treatments, more efficient lighting and signage, new street furniture and soft landscape installations. There is a drive to increase overall space to encourage footfall and safety for pedestrians and to improve accessibility to parking areas as well as improved connectivity between these focal points and other significant sites within Longford.
The designs for Market Square and the Shopping Centre were developed from consultations with stakeholders and Longford County Council.