€200m town centre plan for Portlaoise club grounds


The blueprint for the redevelopment of Portlaoise GAA Club's grounds into a €200 million mixed-use scheme has been lodged with Laois County Council.

Cork-based developer Firestone Developments intends to build a shopping/entertainment/residential district on the grounds of Portlaoise GAA Club beside O'Moore Park on the fringes of the town.

Earlier this year it emerged that the club had agreed to sell its 18-acre facility for €19 million to Firestone Developments, which lists John Keating, Vincent Regan and John McCarthy as directors.

The club has just lodged an ambitious planning application with the local authority seeking permission to build a 15-unit shopping centre, a cinema with bars and restaurants, an office block and 49 apartments.

The club has already secured a 38-acre site a mile away from its current home where it intends to spend €10 million developing a state-of-the-art sporting facility with five full-sized playing pitches, an astro turf pitch, spectator stands, a fitness centre with swimming pool, lounge and restaurant facilities, and parking for 300 cars.

The sale of the grounds is subject to securing planning permission for both sites.

The project will be of great interest to a number of clubs which are reported to be considering cashing in on their well-placed pitches.

It is believed that similar lucrative swap deals are being considered by other clubs, including Longford Slashers, O'Loughlin Gaels in Kilkenny, Middleton Club in Cork and by Castlegar Hurling Club on the outskirts of Galway.

Meanwhile, county boards in Clare and Kerry are in swap negotiations with property developers, and last year Kildare County Board announced plans to sell off St Conleth's Park in Newbridge and move to a purpose-built stadium outside the town.

The Portlaoise club deal will be of great benefit to both the club and the town, allowing the development of 21st century sporting facilities and a new town centre for Portlaoise which has been losing out to its neighbours, according to John Hanniffy, chairman of the club's relocation committee.

It's likely that more and more clubs will consider similar moves to release the enormous value in their land as they experience pressures from confined space and population growth, he added. The club plans to move to its new home within two years and Firestone's development of the current pitch is expected to be completed in seven years.

The project will generate between 600-1,000 jobs during and after construction, according to John Keating from Firestone Developments.