Longford: Longford town needs a boost as job losses hit
The loss of 170 jobs at the Cameron gas and engineering factory in Longford at the end of last year has badly hit the economy in the county. Locals believe it will affect the housing and retail market in the area. The two main employers in the county are now the Prison Service and the Department of Social Welfare.
The town needs a good boost, and agent Fintan McGill of Sherry FitzGerald McGill in Longford town believes it needs to be opened up to tourism. As last year's president of the Chamber of Commerce, one of the drives McGill pushed for was an extension of the M4 from Mullingar to Longford. He adds, "Hopefully this plan will be set in motion in the coming year."
One thing that is sure to help the county is the opening of a Center Parcs village in 2019, in Ballymahon. Plans for Longford Forest include 470 lodges, 30 apartments, a restaurant, spa and more than 100 indoor and outdoor family activities. It should see 750 new jobs created during the construction stage and a further 1,000 permanent jobs once the village has opened.
McGill believes this will have a big effect on the property market in the area, with new employees looking for a place to buy or rent. With supply very tight at the moment, one would hope that more homes will be built around the county before Center Parcs opens.
"Supply is slow right now and it's hard to get good-quality properties in," says McGill. "There's not much in the way of new builds, apart from a few one-off houses. It's still not feasible for builders to move in, because we're currently on a sale price of €90-€100 a square foot and that needs to be at about €120 a square foot to make it worth the builders' while."
Prices in the county increased on average at 8pc in 2016, and McGill predicts a further rise of 5pc in 2017, with bigger jumps at the lower end of the market.