The Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) is a flagship element of Project Ireland 2040. Under the stewardship of my Department, the Fund was established in 2018 to support more compact and sustainable development, through the regeneration and rejuvenation of Ireland’s five cities and other large towns, in line with the objectives of the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan (NDP). This is to enable a greater proportion of residential and mixed-use development to be delivered within the existing built-up footprints of our cities and towns and to ensure that more parts of our urban areas can become attractive and vibrant places in which people choose to live and work, as well as to invest and to visit.
€58 million is available to meet the funding requirements of approved URDF supported projects in 2019, and there is an Exchequer commitment of €550 million for the Fund to support these and other similar projects up to the end of 2022. The URDF has an allocation of €2 billion in the NDP to 2027.
In July 2018 bids for URDF funding support were invited from public bodies, and as a result a total of 189 applications were received by my Department.
The application process was competitive and in the event, the call was oversubscribed in terms of potential value of proposals compared to the available annual URDF provisions. In this context all proposals went through a rigorous assessment including consideration by a Project Advisory Board (PAB), which consisted of representatives from my Department, other relevant Government Departments, agency representation and independent national and international expert representatives.
Following this process, on 26 November 2018, I announced initial URDF support of €100m for a total of 88 projects throughout the country.
All applicants both successful and unsuccessful received a detailed breakdown of the assessment of their proposal. Where the decision in respect of a proposal was unfavourable, applicants were offered the opportunity to request a review of the Departments decision.
As a result, requests for a review were submitted in respect of seven proposals. Each of the proposals involved was reviewed, having regard to the PAB's original evaluation and scoring of the proposal against the URDF programme criteria.
In all cases, including the cases of the Northern Cross Route, Drogheda and Bridge Street, Dundalk , it was found there was nothing to support an outcome that would be materially different from that arrived at through the PAB process.
A second call for proposals under the URDF will be announced shortly.
In the context of the second call it will be a matter for Louth County Council to consider the projects it may wish to submit for consideration and whether, having regard to their previous assessments, the Council could consider submitting further proposals in respect of these areas.