Scaling back projects on the St Francis Abbey site would prove detrimental
Scaling back projects on the St Francis Abbey site would prove detrimental to the whole site’s development, the council’s head of finance Martin Prendiville has said.
At last week's meeting to decide a Local Property Tax rate for Kilkenny, Cllr Malcolm Noonan enquired into the possibility of delaying or scaling back aspects of the council’s capital programme, given the significant financial challenges facing the local authority.
Councillors adopted a three-year capital programme earlier this year, and the total expenditure for projects is €195 million. Housing accounts for about 63% of this, with the Abbey Quarter and western environs development the other two key strategic projects.
There are a number of other projects, including the Graignamagh Library, Butler Gallery, Ferrybank Park, Watershed and others, planned for 2018. Loan finance will be required to ensure they are delivered - but every €1 million borrowed costs around €75,000 per year to service.
“Are there elements of the Abbey Quarter Development that could be scaled back?” asked Cllr Noonan.
The Green Party councilllor enquired if start-ups could be allowed to go in before major capital works or public realm works start, or whether funding for some of the more ambitious projects could be scaled back.
Mr Prendiville said he thought it would be 'detrimental to the whole development' to delay the Abbey Quarter. He noted that a partner has been found, and much of the site was in council possession.
"[The whole process] started in 2012 and we are now heading into 2018,” he said.
“We need the public areas to be developed in tandem with that development. I think it would be absolutely detrimental to the whole project."