The planned Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Energy.
Tipperary Co Council is seeking to develop Ireland’s first carbon-neutral building in Nenagh, a project that could generate some 350 jobs over a 10-year period.
One of a series of new council-led projects in train for the town, this €12.5 million project has been proposed for an undetermined site on Martyr’s Road. The ‘Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Energy’ is being promoted by the council in partnership with the Tipperary Energy Agency, North Tipperary Development Company, Limerick Institute of Technology, Community Power and Siga Ltd.
An application to fund the project has been made under the Project Ireland Urban Regeneration and Development Fund. If successful, it is intended that Tipperary Energy Agency would be based at the Nenagh centre.
Brian Beck, Senior Planner with the council, outlined details of the project at last week’s meeting of Nenagh Municipal District. He said the planned centre would complement the recently completed Sheahan’s Homevalue Hardware premises on Martyr’s Road.
“This project builds on the county’s reputation as a leader in sustainable energy and climate action, and has been designed to be a centrepiece and catalyst for the continued regeneration of the ‘Martyr’s Road Regeneration Quarter’,” Mr Beck stated after the meeting. He said the centre would host a range of public agencies working collaboratively to deliver innovative solutions in training and development, cutting edge research on technologies and incubating low-carbon social enterprises.
“The centre, as Ireland’s first carbon-neutral and energy-positive building, will be an iconic building for Nenagh and in the county, while also generating more than 350 jobs and directly contributing more than €17 million to the town economy over a 10-year period,” Mr Beck said. The council is hoping to have word on its funding application later this year.
Nenagh councillor Hughie McGrath (Ind) hoped the pedestrian crossing on Martyr’s Road would be improved as part of the plan. He favoured a raised crossing that would give greater priority to pedestrians. But Cllr McGrath said the whole area would have to be reassessed in terms of improving connections from the town centre to Lidl and the retail offering around it. Better use could be made of Friar St and Abbey Lane, he suggested, adding that public lighting would have to be improved for the darker evenings.
Mr Beck replied that improving connections and safety for pedestrians and cyclists is part of the application. The council would be providing regular updates on its application and there would be a public consultation process in due course.
Elsewhere, the council has made an application under the Rural Regeneration & Development Fund for a tourism-led regeneration of Nenagh’s historic and cultural quarter. Valued at almost €870,000, the project involves regenerating specific buildings and civic spaces of distinction – including Nenagh Castle, Gaol and Banba Square – to stimulate tourism growth.
The council expects to go to tender in the next fortnight for both the demolition of buildings at Emmet Place/Mitchel Street and creation of a new car park, and the provision of a new tourist office at Nenagh Arts Centre along with the planned enhancement of Banba Square. Preparatory works have also taken in place in advance of the planned rejuvenation of John’s Lane Car Park.
Meanwhile, the council has made contact with Nenagh & District Chamber of Commerce in relation to establishing a ‘Town Team’. A number of specific initiatives are being examined as early projects to be progressed.
A county-wide approach has been put in place in relation to the licensing of tables and chairs in public areas. Business owners interested in placing tables and chairs on footpaths are invited to contact the council.
And the design of the digital hub planned for Stereame will soon be on public display. The council is hoping to have the Part 8 public consultation process concluded as soon as possible so that planning would be in place in advance of potential funding applications.