Tuesday, March 16, 2021

THE news that the Government are giving Waterford City & County Council a further €27.8 million in Urban Regeneration & Development Funding could not have come at a better time. With just about everything on hold thanks to Covid-19 – including the much talked about North Quays development – we could have been forgiven for thinking that the city wasn’t just stagnating, but it was actually going backwards. Thankfully, this news will inject some much needed optimism into the city centre and offer just rewards to Waterford City & County Council who dared to dream of such an exuberant and ambitious project.

When the Waterford News & Star broke news of this ambitious plan last November, the reaction was an understandable mixture of shock and incredulity. It was bold and it was brave and most people felt that it most likely a bridge too far in terms of teasing more money out of a Government that had already coughed up over €100 million for the North Quays development, which, four years on, still hasn’t broken ground.

‘As the local newspaper of record, we are proud to bring exciting news like this to the people of Waterford’

Still, we must take the council’s lead. We must dare to dream. We must believe that the future will be brighter than our present. This plan, according to Council Chief Executive Michael Walsh, is “transformational”.

According to the design strategy, published last May, it will reimagine the city by returning it to a “people centric city centre where people want to live, work and play”. A city where we learn how to live in “more sustainable and innovative ways to become the most liveable city in Ireland”.

We’ve known for years that in order to grow as a city, Waterford would have to entice people back to the city centre. Appropriate accommodation was an issue though and people chose to live in the suburbs instead. When this plan becomes a reality, Waterford will become one of the most attractive cities in Ireland to work and also live in. Credit must go, firstly, to Michael Walsh and his economic development team and also to the team of planners and architects who put such a brave, but also intelligent strategy together, that it was almost impossible for the Government to say no.

Politicians too deserve credit for getting this project over the line. John Cummins was presumably like a woodpecker on the shoulder of Government ministers, pecking away in reiteration of how good and important a project this was. Councillors such as Fianna Fáil’s Eddie Mulligan and Sinn Fein’s Jim Griffin too have been on the ground, attending meetings and submitting proposals to make sure that plans to revitalise parts of the city, in particular the Cultural Quarter, were realised.

As the local newspaper of record, we are proud to bring exciting news like this to the people of Waterford. Sometimes, it’s only when you see it in black and white that it becomes a reality.

Editorial, first published in March 16th edition of the Waterford News & Star

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