Tuesday, 19th June 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

Finally, we’ve been dealt a Royal Flush! Last Wednesday week, those wise owls in An Bord Pleanála, came to the very logical decision that Waterford’s North Quays, would go ahead as planned. Objections were withdrawn at the oral hearing in Treacy’s Hotel. We had indeed been dealt a Royal Flush and can now look forward to a brighter future for Waterford Inc. The story of the Strategic Development Zone for the City’s North Quays, has been a long and windy road. Helped along the way, by Paudie Coffey, when he was in office as a Junior Minister. We can’t underestimate the background work, needed to secure the very first out of Dublin, SDZ. Ireland’s Oldest City would for once, be ahead of the pack and put its hand up before any others. Processing the application did take time. We all hoped that the messaging stating "Waterford was Open for Business", would strike a chord with a wealthy international developer. A City battered, bruised and beaten by others, would begin to fight back. We would be stronger, fitter and better placed than any other urban centre, to benefit from the prestigious SDZ tag. All we needed was a smooth passage through the complex, often unfair planning procedures. We awaited our knight in shining armour, to kiss us and awaken us from 100 years of slumber. The 6th of June 2018 was our day of destiny. It now seems likely that full planning permission for the SDZ, will be given sometime in September. The developers no doubt, tuned in live to WLR FM, to hear the news directly from Eamon Keane, on Deise Today. Michael Walsh, CEO of Waterford Council, also spoke about the significance of the decision.

The process now needs to secure Government’s circa €65,000,000 contribution, for infrastructural works to the road and rail network. Contracts have yet to be signed. No doubt these will be scrutinised, to ensure the people and rate paying businesses of Waterford, get the very best deal for their Euro. After all, none of us wish to be sold a pup. Putting the pressure for profit aside, the deal has to be commercially right for Waterford and its citizens. The final piece of the jigsaw must be put in place by Government. Paschal and his moneymen, are obliged to give their blessing. Allowing Waterford to access the "Honey Pot", that is the Strategic Development Fund. This billion Euro cash cow, must write a cheque to Waterford Council post haste. Like Thomas Barr, we have cleared all ten hurdles, in the 400m Olympic final. Dublin’s Dail Darlings, need to support our application and fast track our submission. Delays won’t be tolerated. With a developer waiting in the wings, it’s time to stop talking and "Show us the money!" Leo has indicated, that Waterford’s resurgence is one of his priorities. Well now is the time to reaffirm that commitment. Show Waterford that there is some substance to the chitchat and that we are indeed, a City worthy of investment. The Nett economic gain, from a relatively small, absorbable circa €65,000,000 of tax payers’ money, is colossal. It’s a no brainer. The race to reclaim Waterford’s rightful position as the economic driver for the South East, has begun. It’s not going to be a sprint. Rather it will be a marathon. We’ve trained hard and at this stage we’re ready for whatever the road ahead throws at us. All things going well, we should start to see ground being broken in the first quarter of 2019. Michael Street will be developed alongside, if not before the North Quays.

This will be very exciting. It will add to the continued renaissance of this area. Once we see cranes and machinery move "On-site", it will become very real for everyone. The promised construction jobs will be an added bonus and the spin off to local businesses, will be a very welcome shot in the arm. It’s brilliant to be able to write so positively about an external decision going our way. It takes our mind of some dodgy, dubious officiating. Rumour has it Mr GAA, that Specsavers may even be opening a mega-store on the North Quays!

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