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Cummins makes strong call for €48.5 million Waterford City Centre URDF application approval

22 separate projects earmarked for investment by Waterford Council in the wider Viking Triangle & Cultural Quarter areas

Speaking in Seanad Eireann on Thursday December 17th, Waterford Senator John Cummins called for clarity on when the next round of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) would be announced. Last month Senator Cummins revealed that Waterford City and County Council had sought €27,661,000 in their submission to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage towards an ambitious €48,549,000 million plan to regenerate derelict and underutilised areas within the wider cultural quarter and Viking Triangle areas.

Senator Cummins emphasised the importance of the project in the context of the projections for growth contained in Project Ireland 2040 and dismissed any suggestion that he was being parochial or greedy. “In total there are 22 separate projects earmarked for investment as part of the plan and I believe it is an excellent project that deserves the backing and support of government. And before anyone says that I am being parochial or greedy given the significant support that Waterford has already received from the URDF, I make no apologies because as I have said before, the litmus test for Project Ireland 2040 will be the successful development of Waterford city as the key economic driver for the South East”.

In response Leader of Seanad Eireann, Regina Doherty said “I don’t believe Senator Cummins that you are being blatantly political for fighting for your city in the Seanad. The news about the North Quays is wonderful. It would be equally wonderful and, indeed, a full circle to provide what could be a state-of-the-art project for the development of the south east, if the Viking Triangle and Cultural Quarter was successful. I do not believe the regional development funding will be announced before Christmas. It will be early in the new year. As the Senator so eloquently described it, I can visualise how it will look if he is successful and I wish him every success in the new year”.

Senator Cummins confirmed he has had several high-level meetings regarding the application over the past number of months and is hopeful of positive news early in the new year. “It had been expected that the next tranche of the URDF would be announced by year end, but the leader has confirmed this will now be in the New Year. I have had some very productive meetings regarding this hugely ambitious plan with twenty-two constituent projects in recent times. It maybe the case that it will have to be funded over a number of rounds of the URDF especially in light of the quantum of money that has been committed by government to Waterford for the North Quay’s but I am working exceptionally hard in the background to ensure this project is supported to the maximum extent possible in the current round. I believe the project speaks for itself and I assure the people of Waterford I have made a strong pitch for support and will continue to do so”.

Under the high level plan Waterford City & County Council expect to spend nearly €12 million on seven projects in the wider Viking Triangle area including the creation of a new “Friary Precinct” which would ‘complete and compliment’ the excellent work that has been undertaken in the area over the past decade. Senator Cummins said “There has been enormous investment in the Viking Triangle area over the past decade and it has transformed before our very eyes. Bailey’s New Street with the wonderful backdrop of Greyfriars and the Viking Sword is an amazing space but the plans to create a further plaza to the rear of Parade Quay linking it with Greyfriars is very clever. Not only would it provide fantastic city centre living and allow businesses to open on to the newly created ‘Friary Square', it would complete the area brilliantly. I’m also very excited about the potential of opening up full views of our city walls with a linear park along Spring Garden Alley. Such a development would be a great amenity for the residents and those who traverse the street on their way to and from the Apple Market area”.

In the wider Cultural Quarter area Waterford City & County Council expect to spend €36.6 million on fifteen projects including “the creation of an upgraded shared space along O’Connell Street linking the whiskey distillery to the city centre; the creation of two new plaza areas on the entrance into the city over Rice Bridge and surrounding the Beech Tower; the acquisition and renovation of the likes of 3/4 George’s Street and 25 O’Connell Street to be used for a productive innovation hub and creative arts studios and the provision of much needed city centre housing with the redevelopment of the Clarendon Court apartment complex”

Senator Cummins concluded by saying “this is a really ambitious regeneration project for Waterford City Centre and I would like to commend the team at Waterford City & County Council for their vision and for their collaborative work with groups like the Cultural Quarter Steering Committee which I was proud to be a member of until my election to the Seanad in April. While the North Quays is a fantastic project that will have a transformative effect on our county and region, we must look beyond it to the other deficits that exist. As someone who lives in the city centre, the regeneration of derelict and under-utilised buildings associated with this application is something I feel we should all buy into”.

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