An artist's impression of the Market Square area of Manorhamilton
A funding application for a public realm project in Manorhamilton has been made under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund (RRDF) this week.
With an estimated cost of €2m the public improvement works, are a “major investment in the future” of the North Leitrim town.
The project includes the provision of town centre car park spaces, increased pedestrian areas and enhancement of the town's Main Street area and business park.
Yesterday, (Tuesday, August 6), Manorhamilton Municipal District members gave the green light for planning for the project, allowing Leitrim County Council to make a funding submission in the latest round of the RRDF.
Local councillor, Felim Gurn, said the project is “vital for the economic survival of Manorhamilton”.
“We are trying to bring businesses back to our main street and to keep them. The reality is that if things like car parking for customers, is not provided, then bringing businesses back is simply not viable,” he said.
We have seen major investment in the town with the work at the castle and the opening of W8. We have accommodation in the town, we have a good tourism product and now it's about connecting the dots. Providing facilities and enhancing the town to attract more business, more customers and more tourists. That's what this project will do.”
Strong case made to support Manorhamilton funding bid
“The idea is make Manorhamilton as an attractive place to visit and to spend more time in. This will benefit not only the businesses but also the community as well” - that's the message behind an application for funding for a public realm project in Manorhamilton.
There are four main focus areas for the works. At the Old Church Road/The Big Brae, the public improvement works include the realignment of the existing road to increase the pedestrian area between the junction with Commons Lane to the South and the Main Street to the North.
Along the Sligo Road/Sráid Sheáin Mhic Dhiarmada works will re-configure the rear garden of the former priest's house to provide 25 car parking spaces and along the Main street area the plan is to improve pedestrian conditions and enhance the Market Square area.
Finally the project includes improvements for vehicular and pedestrian access to the town's business park as well as enhancements to improve its appearance.
Previously plans for major redevelopment in the town centre were unsuccessful in securing funding, but Director of Services, Joseph Gilhooly, said that the council and community have put in an incredible amount of work to try to put this application in as strong a position as possible.
Mr Gilhooly said the public realm works mark “a major investment” aimed at encouraging more visitors and more investment in the town.
“Pedestrian prioritisation will allow people to come to experience the area without having to compete with vehicular traffic,” he said.
While Mr Gilhooly pointed out that this project must now compete nationally for funding under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund, he said “we believe that we have made a very strong application”.
“We have secured Part VIII planning for what is a significant investment in Manorhamilton. This plan has all been developed out of a major review of the town. This identified the need for more car parking space and the need to attract more businesses and tourists to the area.”
He praised the local community and local businesses in particular, for investing in the future of Manorhamilton.
“I believe there is strong momentum behind this project and I think a lot of excellent work has been done that will, hopefully, get this project across the line,” he said.
“There is a strong jobs element included in the project and works to enhance the Main Street area, provide additional parking and to enhance the business park, will all add to that,” he said.
“We have already seen significant investment in the town from other projects such as the opening of the cafe at the castle and the new W8 development and this shows that the commitment of the community for working to secure the future of Manorhamilton.”
Cllr Felim Gurn, said that the success of the funding application is vital to the economic viability of the town and in order to increase visitor numbers to the region.
“It's about the economic survival of this town. It is essential that we get this funding. We need to make this project a reality,” he said.
The successful projects under the RRDF will be announced before the end of the year.