New €3m depot planned close to Tullamore

Waterways Ireland is pushing ahead with plans to develop a new €3m centre on the outskirts of Tullamore.

The proposed new depot will allow the organisation relocate from its existing depot at the Grand Canal Harbour in Tullamore, to a purpose-built facility on the Cappincur Road.

In turn, the move will free up the potential of the town harbour for ambitious redevelopment.

Waterways Ireland is currently inviting tenders for the detailed design of the project and for the supervision of its construction.

The cross-border body has purchased a 4.5 acre site for the project on the Cappincur Road adjacent to the Tullamore bypass, opposite the existing industrial estate.

Planning permission has been secured for three buildings comprising an office and store building spanning almost 600 square metres, a carpentry workshop of 761 square metres and a mechanical workshop of circa 300 square metres. Site works including the provision of an access road and landscaping are also included in the planning approval.

Now, Waterways Ireland is seeking to progress the project by engaging consultants to prepare a detailed design, compile the various tender documents and, on approval of funding, manage the project through the various stages of construction to final handover.

Waterways Ireland said the existing depot in the town of Tullamore at the Grand Canal Harbour provides a central hub for operational activities in the Eastern Region. It is the base for operational maintenance crews and accommodates financial services for Eastern region. The existing depot includes a large carpentry workshop, a number of mechanical workshops, a covered drydock and a small office block with stores. There is office space for 19 staff.

In the workshops there are four carpenters and four mechanical fitters.

There are a further 16 operational and 14 construction workers who are based in Tullamore and work mostly around the canal length.

Waterways Ireland, however, believes the site “no longer meets the needs of the organisation as an operation maintenance and work depot” and says it intends to now progress the new depot projec

This involves the preparation of the detailed design and all tender documents necessary to allow the construction phases of the project to proceed.

The contract for the consultants will be for three years but includes a 12-month period after construction and occupation of the building for the resolution of any defects. It’s envisaged the actual construction phase will last for 65 weeks.

Earlier this year, Offaly County Council, in partnership with Waterways Ireland, advertised for consultants to prepare a plan to “unlock the unique opportunity to redevelop and revitalise the Grand Canal Harbour area of Tullamore”.

Consultants are currently appraising development options for the harbour, and working on a masterplan for the site.

The move comes following the inclusion of work on the masterplan among a bundle of Tullamore projects approved for some €2.25m funding from the national Urban Regeneration and Development Fund in 2020.

The selected consultants were asked to consider the possibility of a high-density mixed-use waterside development scheme for the harbour area, or the creation of a “compelling destination” area including cafés, restaurants and water sports facilities, visitor experiences, and a day and night-time economy.

The closing date for the receipt of tenders for the new depot project is June 28.