Over €1 mil­lion in LEADER fund­ing granted to date

ONE-FIFTH OF €4.6 MIL­LION BUD­GET COM­MIT­TED AND AP­PLI­CA­TIONS STILL OPEN

Bray People - - NEWS - By DEB­O­RAH COLE­MAN

IN ex­cess of €1 mil­lion in LEADER fund­ing has been granted to com­mu­nity groups and lo­cal busi­nesses in County Wick­low since the pro­gramme be­gan in Novem­ber 2017 – and the win­dow for fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tions is still open.

De­spite a de­layed start, the LEADER/Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (RDP) 2014-2020 is gain­ing mo­men­tum in Wick­low and ap­prox­i­mately 22 per cent of the over­all project bud­get of €4.6 mil­lion is now com­mit­ted.

The de­liv­ery mech­a­nism has changed from pre­vi­ous years and County Wick­low Part­ner­ship (CWP) now im­ple­ments the pro­gramme on be­half of Wick­low Lo­cal Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee (LCDC), with Wick­low County Coun­cil as fi­nan­cial part­ner. Th­ese closer links have helped to spear­head ini­tia­tives such as a So­cial En­ter­prise Strat­egy for County Wick­low, which has brought a num­ber of key stake­hold­ers to­gether to help progress this sec­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to chair­per­son of the LCDC Cllr Gráinne McLough­lin, the part­ner­ship ap­proach con­tin­ues to be a cen­tral fea­ture of the LEADER pro­gramme and en­cour­ages in­no­va­tive de­vel­op­ment meth­ods and op­por­tu­ni­ties.

‘Many ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties are driv­ing so­cial en­ter­prises in re­sponse to de­clin­ing ba­sic ser­vice lev­els in their ar­eas and we want to do all we can to help them to ad­dress th­ese needs,’ she said.

To date the de­mand for fund­ing has been high­est from the tourism, en­ter­prise and com­mu­nity sec­tors, and Hid­den Val­ley Hol­i­day Park, Rath­drum was one of the cur­rent round re­cip­i­ents.

The hol­i­day park, run by Lloyd and Molly William, se­cured LEADER fund­ing to­wards the cost of a new fam­ily aqua park and the ex­pan­sion of their Christ­mas Is­land ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘With­out LEADER fund­ing we would not be able to of­fer th­ese ex­cit­ing new ac­tiv­i­ties. Our Christ­mas Is­land ex­pe­ri­ence is book­ing out fast and we hope to of­fer other sea­sonal events for a fun fam­ily day out. Splash Val­ley will be in the top five largest in­flat­able aqua parks in Ire­land and the UK, and is open­ing on-site at Hid­den Val­ley Hol­i­day Park in the spring of 2019,’ said the cou­ple.

Busi­nesses or com­mu­nity groups in­ter­ested in seek­ing fund­ing are ad­vised to con­tact CWP as soon as pos­si­ble while fund­ing is still avail­able. CWP, on be­half of the LCDC, is also seek­ing ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from projects in the ar­eas of en­vi­ron­ment and bio­di­ver­sity to pro­vide for more sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, visit www.wick­low­part­ner­ship.ie or con­tact CWP De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cers Ali­son Keogh and Siob­hán Me­hi­gan on 0402 20955.

PLAN­NING per­mis­sion for new houses in Wick­low Town will not be granted un­til 2026 un­der the terms of the new Na­tional Plan­ning Frame­work, Fianna Fáil Deputy Pat Casey told the Dáil.

He said the County De­vel­op­ment Plan adopted only a year ago and ap­proved by the Depart­ment of Hous­ing, Plan­ning and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment pro­vided for pop­u­la­tion growth there of 42,500 up to 2031.

‘How­ever, the Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed Na­tional Plan­ning Frame­work Im­ple­men­ta­tion Roadmap now pro­vides for pop­u­la­tion growth in Wick­low of 22,750 in that pe­riod, a de­crease of al­most 50%,’ he said.

‘ That has se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions. Some €120 mil­lion has been in­vested in crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture in Wick­low town but plan­ning per­mis­sion for hous­ing in the town will not be granted un­til 2026 and even then only per­mis­sion for 20 houses will be granted.’

He said the Taoiseach stated in the Dáil that there is a hous­ing cri­sis. ‘We have the in­fras­truc- ture in Wick­low town and the Min­is­ter of State is say­ing that, with this roadmap, we can­not build a house un­til 2026. That does not make sense.’

Deputy Casey said Ark­low has not had a waste wa­ter treat­ment plant for 30 years but is now get­ting one. How­ever, un­der the plan only 24 houses may be built there per year.

In re­sponse, Min­is­ter of State said Deputies should not get side­tracked on the pop­u­la­tion caps.

‘ They are not nec­es­sar­ily meant to be caps,’ he said. ‘ They are pre­dic­tions of where we are try­ing to go. While I un­der­stand the de­bate has be­come fo­cused on that, we need to de­ter­mine how we can get this teased out to get agree­ment on plans that give us what we need for our coun­ties.

‘Fo­cus­ing on the pop­u­la­tions is miss­ing the point. We need to move away from the old and failed mod­els of just zone and build, which, while re­ward­ing landown­ers and de­vel­op­ers with high fi­nan­cial re­turns from spec­u­la­tive hous­ing de­vel­op­ment, did not tackle the longer-term is­sues fac­ing ex­ist­ing com­mu­ni­ties.’

Pat Casey TD.

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