Friday 17 January 2020

Deal struck to design new Limerick affordable housing district beside Colbert Station

(Steve Parsons/PA)
(Steve Parsons/PA)

Shawn Pogatchnik

A State-owned site beside Colbert Station in Limerick could become the city’s biggest “urban neighbourhood” with potential space for thousands of residential units as part of an agreement signed today.

The signing ceremony at Limerick City Hall opens the way for a team of State-appointed architects to design a plan for the 50-hectare (123.5-acre) site - the size of 70 football pitches - beside Limerick’s main train and bus station.

It would be the biggest project yet undertaken by the Land Development Agency (LDA), which was formed barely a year ago to free up State land for development, particularly for social and affordable housing.

“Healthy living without car dependency can now become a reality for thousands of new residents in Limerick,” said LDA chairman John Moran, who sees the project as an important part of helping Limerick to grow eventually to 300,000 residents - triple the current total.

The brownfield development site assembled by the LDA includes adjoining plots and structures owned by Limerick City and County Council (LCCC), the Health Service Executive (HSE) and semi-State transport company CIÉ.

Today’s signing ceremony opens the way for a Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland design team led by former RIAI president David Browne to produce a master plan. The LDA would fund preparatory works for the project.

The LCCC chief executive, Pat Daly, said the project “represents a hugely transformative development for the city centre” and would strengthen what he called “the economic powerhouse of the Mid-West”.

Limerick mayor Michael Sheahan added: “Limerick is one of the most affordable places to live in Ireland and the significant investment put forward by the LDA to fund the design review and master-planning process will ensure that it remains so.”

Dr Daly said the location beside Limerick’s main transportation hub would allow future residents to have “direct transport links to other Irish cities within walking distance of the new development”.

Rail services at Colbert Station currently link Limerick directly with Dublin and Galway, with connecting services via Limerick Junction to Cork, Kerry and Waterford. The station is also the city's main Bus Éireann hub.

The design team leader, Mr Browne, is a director of RKD, an architecture firm with a specialty in masterplans for residential and commercial quarters. Its projects include One Microsoft Place, the LinkedIn headquarters and the Guinness Storehouse.

The LDA currently is overseeing development of about 4,000 residential units on nine sites. The most recently announced project in Shankill, Co Dublin, is planned to deliver nearly 600 units for subsidised purchase and rental schemes as well as social housing.

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