Sunday 20 October 2019

Drogheda key part of new M1 corridor

Minister Eoghan Murphy launches ambitious project that will see Drogheda and Dundalk become part of a united approach to attracting major business to the region up to 2040

Brian Hanratty, Drogheda Chamber with MEP Mairead McGuinness at the M1 Corridor Launch held in Bellingham Castle
Brian Hanratty, Drogheda Chamber with MEP Mairead McGuinness at the M1 Corridor Launch held in Bellingham Castle
Catchment M1 corridor

A new 'M1 Corridor Project' has been announced for the Drogheda-Dundalk and possibly Newry area.

Minister Eoghan Murphy officially launched the idea on Monday in Castlebellingham.

The major new investment initiative which will see the region challenge Dublin and Belfast for international investment and is part of the government's Project 2040 plans.

The project aims to drive international investment into the region by highlighting the enormous advantages it has over Dublin or Belfast as a location for investment.

The launch was attended by local and multinational business leaders based in the region, who heard of the significance of the area being included in the Project Ireland 2040.

The M1 Corridor Project is a business-led initiative driven by local business groups, and spear headed by Dundalk Chamber, Drogheda & District Chamber, and The Mill Enterprise Hub and Oriel Hub Enterprise Centre.

Those attending the launch yesterday heard that the project will 'aim to drive international investment into the region by highlighting the enormous advantages it has as a superb location for investment.'

Central among these advantages is the connectivity of the region as the transport and broadband backbone of the island.

President of Drogheda and District Chamber, Shona McManus has welcomed the launch of the M1 Corridor jobs and investment initiative.

She described the M1 Corridor project as "a truly ground-up initiative that has been developed and supported by local stakeholders across the region."

Shona sees the initiative as a key platform for sustainability and driving growth in a location that's at the centre of Ireland's economic growth and ideal for business and investment. This will help create much needed jobs and careers in a great region in which to work, live, study and play.

"We expect this M1 Corridor initiative will help strengthen Drogheda and the wider region's position as it competes both nationally and internationally for foreign direct investment; 2nd site and Start-Up companies. Already, we have excellent infrastructure and a talented workforce with a broad range of skills and qualifications. Add to that our unrivalled location, the fastest broadband and a great coastal lifestyle. While there are still some challenges to address, never before have we been in a stronger position to grow and prosper," she added.

Paddy Malone, spokesman for Dundalk Chamber added; 'The M1 Corridor Project has been carefully developed by local business groups on both sides of the border for over ten years and will bring new investment and jobs into the Drogheda-Dundalk-Newry region.'

He added: 'Our critical objective is to highlight the huge advantages of the region in comparison to Dublin or Belfast as a location for investment.'

The event heard that north east region has been comparably neglected and has relied on indigenous business for development.

'For countless years, there has been far too much emphasis placed on Dublin and this has backfired in terms of spiralling housing, commercial property and wage costs for firms moving to Ireland,' said Paddy.

'In contrast the M1 corridor is close to Dublin but is highly cost competitive.; 'The M1 Corridor is of critical strategic importance to the all-island economy in the decades ahead.''

Minister Eoghan Murphy met with representatives from both Louth towns who outlined just how significant a player the eastern seaboard will be in the next few decades, given its growing population and broad reach to other regions. north, south and west.

The removal of Dundalk as a Gateway in the Draft 2040 Development Plan came as a shock to us,' said Paddy Malone, Dundalk Chamber.

But, he singled out one man, Anthony Abbott King, a senior planner in Louth County Council who found a way to ensure the county would feature in the government's vision for the next twenty years.

'Louth County Council's proposal was the creation of a 'Linear City', where the Drogheda - Dundalk corridor is considered as a single conurbation thereby comfortably meeting the population threshold.'

As part of the council's Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) the Dublin- Belfast Economic Corridor was recognised as a 'growth enabler' for the region.

The council's strategy, which is being submitted to the Project 2040 plan also highlights that the Dublin-Belfast corridor 'has the capacity to provide the only potential paired city European growth pole of scale on the island: reaching a European benchmark five million population target to compete with similar city regions in the EU.'

The impending impact of Brexit has also been recognised in the plan, where it is acknowledged; 'The imperative to counteract Brexit with a proactive spatial economic strategy adds to the significance of the corridor.'

The local authority proposed to develop an Urban Area plan (UAP for Dundalk to provide a 'coordinated planning framework to identify and deliver strategic sites and regeneration areas for the future physical, economic, and social development of the town to ensure targeted compact growth of a minimum of 30% is achieved.'

As part of this aim the need for the regeneration of specific parts of both Louth towns, including the Long Walk area in Dundalk and Westgate in Drogheda was highlighted

The council is in the process of implementing urban design visions for the regeneration of both areas.

But key to the local plans is the aim to incorporate 'population targets' rather than caps for both Dundalk and Drogheda.

Indeed as part of the new spatial strategy it is envisaged that 50,000 people could reside in each town by the year 2031.

Speaking ahead of the meeting with Minister Murphy, Paddy added : 'The Chamber will emphasise that its focus is to support the Louth County Council proposal of the Drogheda- Dundalk as a 'linear city' but also to expand it to include Newry.'

'The Minister has already indicated that if our submission was along those lines he would support it,' said Paddy.

'The 2040 Plan as he announced in November 2017 responded to our submission in full. The focus on the M1 Corridor to Newry was noted, and the additional work on the All Island economy and the section on Brexit.'

'He had taken on board all of what we and Louth County Council had submitted,' added Paddy. At the same time Drogheda Chamber had submitted a document in relation to the proposed Drogheda city status, which helped bolster the case for Louth's MI economic corridor.

Drogheda Independent