The ongoing story in relation to the North Quays is finally reaching full planning stage and now the next step is to see if any objections will arise.Some local authorities nearby have expressed reservations due to the scale of it.Traders in the city centre of Waterford could also be worried about its impact on the old heart of the city.
On a positive point of view it is great to see extra investment coming in and hopefully more will follow on from it.There are some indications that extra investments in offices at the North Wharf may be possible which could create real jobs in new enterprises start ups and others. It might also suit Dublin based operations to have some of the back office activities here.
Another possible investment there could be that subsequent to the merger of Carlow and Waterford institutes that a new enterprise and innovation building could be located there, under the new Technological University of the South East. We know the merger discussions are moving forward but there is some element of frustration at the slow course of them, but there are international standards to be met and legal instruments to be completed.
In the meantime by 4 years time there should be a new vibrant tech university and some future elements that could be compatible with enterprise could be placed in the North Wharf.Mayor of St. Herblain, France, Waterford’s twin city Bernard Affile explained to us they got Nantes University to place an enterprise centre there along with living accommodation at the site , but over there in Nantes, on the old shipyards site it was done on an incremental basis over ten years. They also had walkways, apartments and leisure and some exhibition spaces. They have various attractions like walking machines with a Mechanical elephant over there.
They were fortunate to get more state investment and were less dependent on foreign investment, here there will be a bigger private element with the Saudis.
The investment is positive for Waterford and hopefully the city in time can move up a gear.In the meantime, we should not lose focus on the city centre more initiatives are needed to bring shoppers , traders , diners and others into the city as it stands.Cheaper parking incentives and more events will attract them , like the Winterval event.We have to balance developing the new with revitalising of what is still there
in the city and making it a good place to visit, shop and be happy to be there.