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Limerick City: The damning effects of 'doughnut development' on historic centre


LIMERICK City has effectively banned out-of-town shopping centres as part of a concerted effort to regenerate the core.

Not only is the council involved in a major regeneration of Moyross, South Hill, Ballinacurragh Weston and St Mary's Park, it also wants to spearhead the revival of Newtown Pery, the Georgian Quarter, much of which is underused, and which empties out at the end of the working day.

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Some 180 hectares of land is zoned in the city, enough for 5,942 homes. The Housing Agency says 2,635 are needed.

Just over 40,000 people work in the city and suburbs every day, of which half are from other areas. Around 10,000 live in the county, and 5,000 in Clare and 2,200 in North Tipperary.

The wider commuter belt includes Annacotty, Ennis, Nenagh, Adare and Castletroy.

Close to 90pc use the car, suggesting better public transport options must be provided.

The city has been dogged by doughnut development, where the centre was ignored while the suburbs were allowed flourish.

That will change under the Limerick 2030 vision, says senior planner in Limerick City and County Council Gerry Sheeran.

"We now have a county population of 191,000 and it's more and more trying to focus on the idea of being a city region. There's little housing demand outside the city, and we're not granting significant permissions.

"We're encouraging a lot of private housing to go into the city centre."

The main pillars of Limerick 2030 include development of the waterfront, including pedestrianisation, boardwalks, bars, offices and new homes, and redevelopment of Colbert Station.

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There's plans to reduce the amount of traffic going through O'Connell Street, Catherine Street and Henry Street, the hope being to divert much through the Limerick Tunnel, and to develop an office, shopping and higher education campus on the three-acre Opera Centre site, which includes the demolition of nearby Sarsfield House.

The city's population is falling, down 4pc in the last census to some 57,000, but new homes could be provided in the Georgian Quarter.

The difficulty is some of the historic houses that characterise this neighbourhood are up to 5,000 square feet - which is four times the size of the 'average' family home.

"We're looking to bring family homes back in which is not easy. How do you provide gardens?

"The city centre is the focus. It's lost population, and we're trying to reverse that. It's all towards that."

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The Residential Land Availability Survey map was created by drawing together zoning maps held by each local authority in the State.

Developed by the Department of the Environment, it sets out individual plots of land in towns, villages, cities and rural areas, and indicates the number of homes permitted on each site.

It took almost two years to develop, and provides planners and developers with an overview of the available land for housing.

It does not include land zoned for mixed-use development, which would generally include some housing provision. Nor does it include derelict sites.

The data is based on the situation as of March 31 last. Stage 1 land is considered not viable for development in the short-term because necessary services such as water are not in place. Stage 2 land has no major constraints. Not all the land has planning permission.