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Project Ireland 2040: The plan for cities at a glance

Find out what is planned for Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford

Buildings as tall as  the 17 storey Elysian Tower will be commonplace in Cork docklands.

Buildings as tall as the 17 storey Elysian Tower will be commonplace in Cork docklands.


Cities and regional towns across the country will cater for up to 75 per cent of the extra one million people predicted to be living in Ireland by 2040.

It is intended that major cities around Ireland will grow at twice the rate of Dublin as part of the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 plan.

We take a look at some of the main projects that aim to breathe further life into these cities, making them more attractive for investment, as well as places to live and work into the future.


While Dublin has generally performed well in recent years in some respects, it is lacking in housing and transport options. The plan places a focus on a number of large regeneration and redevelopment projects, including some on under-utilised land within the canals and the M50.

It also includes significant green-field development, on sites that can be integrated with the existing built-up areas of the capital, many of which are already designated as Strategic Development Zones (SDZs). These include Adamstown, Cherrywood, Clonburris and Clongriffin.

In transport, it is planned that the Metro Link will run from Swords in the north of the county to Sandyford in the south at a cost of €3 billion, while a €2 billion Dart upgrade would see commuter lines to Dunboyne, Drogheda and Maynooth electrified. The upgrade of buses in Dublin will cost €2 billion. A second runway at Dublin Airport would cost an estimated €320 million to build.

As well as the new children’s hospital at St James’s campus, there are plans to build two outpatient departments, one at Connolly hospital in Blanchardstown, the other at Tallaght Hospital.

Cork – city and metropolitan area

Within the Project Ireland 2040 framework, the Cork region is set to become the fastest growing area in the country. In order to facilitate the 50 per cent projected population growth in the city, building on brownfield sites will be a necessity to help achieve compact growth and greater population density. The plan involves going upwards, with buildings such as the existing 17-storey Elysian Tower set to become commonplace in the Cork docklands.

Major infrastructure projects include the construction of the M20 Cork-Limerick motorway at a cost of €900 million, as well as a commitment to building the €110 million Dunkettle Interchange. A figure of €130 million has been earmarked for the Cork-Ringaskiddy road.

Across the country, there are plans to spend €500 million on flood protection and the lower Lee flood-relief scheme is to be included in this.

In Cork, the construction of a new acute hospital along with a hospital dealing only with scheduled procedures and operations are also included in the plan.


In Galway, there are plans to deliver a number of regeneration projects at the station, docks and Headford Road areas that would extend and intensify the city centre. House choices are an issue in Galway, and therefore the framework makes provision for the sustainable development of new greenfield sites for housing, such as at Ardaun.

Bus networks are to be upgraded at a cost of €200 million under the plan, while transport links to Parkmore, Ballybrit and Mervue will be improved.

One of the biggest projects earmarked for the city is the Galway ring road, estimated to cost €550 million.

A proposed elective hospital may be developed on the site of the Merlin Park Hospital and new wards are also planned. The National Cancer Strategy Capital Developments will include the National Programme for Radiation in Galway.

Delivery of the Galway east main drainage waste-water treatment plant is also included while the plan will ensure the water supply and wastewater needs are met by new national projects to enhance Galway’s water supply and increase its waste water treatment capacity.


The Limerick 2030 economic strategy will be implemented to create modern, city centre offices as well as a number of city centre public realm projects. As part of this plan, there are measures to encourage significant inner urban residential regeneration and development, to include the city’s Georgian quarter. The NPF will extend the Limerick 2030 plan to include the extension of the city centre towards Limerick docks. New greenfield areas for development include places such as Mungret. There will be an upgrade to the N21/N69 Limerick-Adare road. The Shannon Foynes Port company also looks set to benefit from a chunk of the €350 million in investment.


A total of €80 million is earmarked for the redevelopment of the north quays, which includes the construction of a pedestrian bridge as well as a second bridge for motor vehicles.

Waterford Institute of Technology would be upgraded to university status under the NDP while University Hospital Waterford and Waterford airport are set to be beneficiaries under the plan. Roadworks include upgrades to the N24 Waterford-Limerick, as well as the N25 Waterford-Cork.

Growth towns


Sligo will play a pivotal role in developing the northwest under the National Development Plan, with the region, consisting of Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Cavan, Monaghan, Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon identified as deserving of particular focus.

The commitment given in the NDP to the regeneration funding gives a clear signal to local authorities to think ahead around proposals to transform their places, according to Niall Cussens, chief planner at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

With this in mind, a number of specific works have been identified in Sligo, including proposals to continue the regeneration of large social housing estates like Cranmore, “knitting that better into the fabric of the overall town,” he says. There are also plans to link the northern and southern parts of the town via a new bridge over the Garavogue river.

Included in the NDP are plans for a western distributor road as well as the redevelopment of the hospital.

Dundalk, Drogheda

In Dundalk, places such as Cox’s Demense and Muirhevnamor are in need of regeneration and the creation of a more attractive town core is also a priority. “The local authority has been working well with us for a good few years with a limited amount of resources; this plan allows those things to be committed to,” Cussens says. Dundalk has a reasonably good transport infrastructure but also needs good east-west linkages, he says. “Places like Monaghan naturally gravitate towards places like Dundalk but it’s not a journey that’s easy, so there are proposals for strengthening roads.”

Drogheda has grown rapidly as a result of the Dublin-Belfast corridor and further development can now take place in the northern environs, given the commitments in the NDP.


“Having Athlone as a growth hub will attract investment into the region and will have clear spin-off benefits for neighbouring population centres such as Longford, Mullingar and Tullamore,” Minister for Rural Affairs Michael Ring says.

While there is good transport connectivity in Athlone, including a motorway and rail lines, as well as decent broadband, Cussens says there are a lot of areas that are underdeveloped and potentially in need of renewal.

“At the moment Athlone is almost like two towns, side-by-side, Monksland in Roscommon, the original historic town centre and the piece stretching out to the east in Westmeath. We’d love to see the two come together and have a really visionary plan and back that up with investment. There is a need for additional housing and more people living in the town. We want to see an integrated plan drawn up between the local authorities that make up Athlone,” he says. A flood relief scheme is also needed in the town.


In order to support the strong links that exist between Letterkenny and Derry, the region has also been given particular focus within the document.

“Addressing enhanced connectivity is a priority for this regional area as well as enabling growth and competitiveness to support the strong links that exist between Letterkenny and Northern Ireland,” the report says.

Rebuilding works at Letterkenny General Hospital were also mentioned in the plan.