Blow for Shannon as ‘badly needed’ Venue is binned

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THE committee tasked with delivering The Shannon Venue have announced that the project has been scrapped, blaming lack of support from the Government for a ‘badly-needed’ project.

In a statement to The Clare Echo, ‘Croí na Sionna’ said, “With a heavy heart, today is the day that we announce that lack of support from government has brought The Shannon Venue’s efforts to deliver a Community, Civic & Creative Centre for the town to an end.

“Since 2012, the group has endeavoured to make The Venue a reality in order to improve Shannon, the living town. Shannon Town not only deserves this facility and focal point, but badly needs it. We have presented to hundreds of people, committees, CEOs, councillors, TDs, Ministers and in January this year to An Taoiseach.

“We have just learned that the latest of our funding applications to government (Urban Regeneration Development Fund – ‘Category A’) has been unsuccessful. This, despite the fact that voluntary effort backed by €0.85m funding commitments from Shannon businesses and the community, has delivered a turnkey project. It is a ‘ready to go’ project with site secured, designed, full planning permission, detailed business and financial plan in place. With Clare County Council’s intention to use part of the building for municipal offices, this offered a real opportunity to build this much needed focal point for the town.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoin Murphy TD last week announced that Ennis is among the first successful applicants under the Government’s €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, which is intended to drive regeneration and rejuvenation of strategic and underutilized areas within Ireland’s cities and large towns. The funding allocated to the Ennis Town Centre Public Realm Regeneration project will cater for the delivery of two projects, namely Parnell Street and the Lanes and Bow-ways (€1,411,000), as well as Barrack Square and Old Barrack Street, O’Connell Street and High Street (€189,000). Meanwhile, a multi-service innovation centre in the heart of Ennistymon was allocated €1m.

On that same day, it was announced that support had been committed under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund to the principle of the development of the Venue, a new cultural and civic centre for Shannon. The funding details were to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

The statement continues, “Instead of government funding to match real money and hard work from community and business, the URDF ‘Category B’ announcement offers funding for a new masterplan. We just don’t get the idea of funding for a new plan. This project arose from the complete lack of progress on delivery of the key piece of the 2008 and 2012 masterplans for the town. We are effectively being told to wait for a third plan ten years after the first one. Planning is not the issue. The problem is consistent failure to carry out the actions required to turn public plans and policies into meaningful action for the people of Shannon.

“We would like to acknowledge the involvement of two fantastic supporters in every sense of the word, Mick Guinee and Paddy Purcell who have been with us in mind, body & spirit (not to mention funding) every step of the way and leading the business community, yet again. Also, the financial support of local companies Ei Electronics, Molex, Peach Recruitment & Tekelek who all helped get this project to ‘Shovel Ready’ stage.

“We also appreciate the support of the community who encouraged us from the beginning and willed us on over the years. Just think of the energy, enjoyment and excitement that people from all parts of the town experienced during the community and business led Shannon Festivals in 2016 and 2017. If we could do this with pop up facilities, imagine what the people of Shannon could do with a permanent venue.”

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