LIMERICK Labour TD and Spokesperson on Housing and Local Government, Jan O’Sullivan believes the proposed Opera Centre Development needs to be amended to contain residential units.
The Labour Party has made a submission to Limerick City and County Council outlining the serious concerns they have with the proposed development.
“It is fundamentally wrong that this proposal fails to grasp the opportunity to provide badly needed residential accommodation at a time when there is such a chronic shortage of housing,” Deputy O’Sullivan told the Limerick Post this week.
“There is a clear commitment in the Limerick 2030 Plan to provide homes in the city centre. When as Housing Minister I approved capital funding to Limerick City Council towards the purchase of the Opera Centre, there was an understanding that there would be a residential element,” she explained.
Novas, the largest provider of homeless services in the Mid-West, also registered its concerns regarding the complete absence of residential accommodation in the Project Opera Site plans.
Novas’ head of policy and communications, Una Burns explained: “Considering the huge dearth of accommodation to rent and buy in the city, we find it alarming that plans for such a massive city centre development on land owned by the local authority does not include accommodation.”
“A search of the daft.ie website shows there are only five apartments to rent in the city, none of which are one beds and there are just 67 residential properties in the entire city for sale.
She believes that the inclusion of accommodation in the Opera Centre would provide opportunity to create a ‘living city’, where people socialise and meet in the city centre after business hours, something that was decimated in Limerick during the recession.
“Working on the frontline of homeless services in the city, we are acutely aware on the need for more city centre accommodation. On a monthly basis we work with 107 families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness — a jump from 40 families per month in 2015.
“There are almost 70 families in the city living in B&B accommodation, which is wholly unsuitable for young children, with huge lasting implications. Our Temporary Emergency Provision, which was only opened last December is turning away adults on a nightly basis. Five or six people are turned away each night and provided with bedding which is an entirely inadequate response to their needs. We anticipate that this will only get worse in the coming months,” she concluded.
by Alan Jacques