Portlaoise was unveiled as one of the successful Towns to be allocated funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), launched in July this year as part of Project Ireland 2040. Portlaoise secured over €3.3 million in funding for 2019 in respect of the development of a new Cultural Quarter in Portlaoise, and also the development of initiatives which will see Portlaoise becoming the first Low Carbon town in Ireland.

Both proposals form part of a wider plan for Portlaoise 2040 that will see a number of enhancements and renewal projects within the town centre. The Cultural Quarter focuses on a number of land mark buildings relating to the towns establishment in the 16th century. This included the Fort Protector, Old St. Peters Church and Presentation Convent, The River Triogue; and the Ridge Burial Ground.

The Cultural Quarter will centre on this historically significant area of the original Portlaoise settlement. The plans for the area are already well underway with the remodelling of Fitzmaurice Place. The Fort protector will be the central attraction in this re-imagined space where it will be restored with historically accurate methods and fitted with a new viewing tower that will be open to the public.

Laois County Council also plans to re-purpose the old Scoil Mhuire site to become the new home for the Laois School of Music, Music Generation Laois and to provide provision of new public car parking to serve the new cultural hub of Portlaoise. 47 Social Housing Units are planned for development within the Presentation Sisters convent lands. Laois County Council is also in the process of planning and funding the delivery of a new Portlaoise public library replacing the old Shaws building at Lower Square.

The aim of the Low Carbon Town is to remove the dominance of cars within the Portlaoise town centre and addressing the poor pedestrian experience of the area. The Council will be investing an estimated €2.7million euro over the next three years to make the Low Carbon Town a reality.

This will be achieved by removing large volumes of traffic from congested areas, utilising the South Circular Road and by reconfiguration of existing traffic flows throughout the town centre. Building on the development of this ‘Park and Stride’ policy Laois County Council will also be encouraging an increase in the adoption of cycling by extending on-road and off-road cycle ways and the creation of the Triogue River Blueway as an environmental and amenity objective. The Local Authority will also be upgrading the laneway’s of Portlaoise by improving the overall look, retrofitting existing street lights with energy saving LED’s and adding additional lighting to poorly lit areas. Further energy efficient amenities will include the addition of 30 eCar charge Points and an extension of the number of solar powered compactor bins to 50.

Both projects represent an instrumental step forwards in realising the vision for Portlaoise as outlined in the document ‘2040 and Beyond; A Vision for Portlaoise’.

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