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Ballina’s military barracks gets major funding

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PLANS Ballina Military Barracks is to receive €3.2 million for a transformative development.

Áine Ryan

FORMER military barracks in both Ballina and Castlebar are set to be major beneficiaries of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF). There has been a broad welcome for funding of €3.2 million for the transformative development of the north Mayo capital’s 18th-century military barracks into the Ballina Innovation Quarter, while details of the plans for Castlebar’s old barracks are set to be confirmed in the coming days.     

Digital hub
Built in 1742, the redevelopment of Ballina’s military barracks promises to culminate in the creation of 210 jobs within three years, with the digital hub and innovation centre acting as ‘a catalyst for urban regeneration of the town and its surroundings’.
While enhancing the town’s attractiveness for investment, it will provide local start-up businesses with ‘a platform from which they can grow and sustain their entrepreneurial endeavours’. Specifically, ‘the digital hub will provide 20 spaces for technology, digital media and internet companies to scale and grow alongside local enterprises and a distillery which will be established by SMAKS, an international private investor which will create jobs in the production of high-end rum’.
Welcoming yesterday’s announcement, John Magee, Mayo County Council’s Head of Enterprise said: “The project is a unique collaboration between Mayo County Council, a private investor, Moy Valley Resources and the Blackstone Launchpad at NUIG. Not only does the project address issues around urban decay and public realm improvements, it also provides an important addition to the enterprise infrastructure in the region, thus becoming a genuine catalyst for urban transformation.
“When delivered, the Ballina Innovation Quarter will significantly increase the attractiveness of Ballina and north Mayo from an economic perspective and will unlock significant enterprise and entrepreneurial activity.”

‘Commitment’
Ballina-based Fine Gael Senator Michelle Mulherin said this project showed ‘a serious commitment by Government to revitalising the fortunes of Ballina and its hinterland … in line with the objectives of Project Ireland 2040, which will deliver growth in rural Ireland and help resolve many of the pressures on the big urban centres’.
“We are in a digital age that offers enormous opportunities and by building up a strategic market town in rural Ireland like Ballina it gives our area a fighting chance to grow economically through innovation and creativity and provide much-needed employment opportunities so that more and more people, especially our youth, can avail of an opportunity to stay and live and work in the Ballina area,” Ms Mulherin said.

Castlebar investment
MEANWHILE details will be announced in the coming days about county town Castlebar’s tranche of funding under the URDF, with monies being allocated for the Urban Greenway Link and the town’s military barracks. The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring has confirmed funding of €938,000 for the greenway link while the town’s old Military Barracks, along with three other projects, will benefit from an overall funding allocation of €1,647,000. The URDF has an overall allocation of €2 billion and is under the umbrella of Project Ireland 2040.
“The fund is the largest urban regeneration initiative in Ireland for decades and was established to support more compact and sustainable development, through the regeneration of and rejuvenation of Ireland’s cities and large towns, in line with the objectives of Project Ireland 2040,” Minister Ring said.
He explained that it aims to revitalise ‘the existing built-up footprints of our cities and towns and it will ensure that more parts of our urban areas can become attractive and vibrant places in which people choose to live and work, as well as to invest’.

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