Housing units were proposed for Limerick Opera Centre site

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Opera Centre
Artist's impression of the Opera Centre plaza

PLANS to have more than 160 housing units included in the development of the Opera Centre Site were just one of a number of options proposed for the multi million euro regeneration of Limerick City Centre.

A spokesman for Limerick City and County Council told the Limerick Post last week that the inclusion of housing units was “one of a number of suggestions for the site”

He also confirmed that there was also a suggestion for providing a major shopping centre on the site.

“The plans which are now gone to An Bord Pleannala are the ones which were finally agreed up after looking at the consultants’ report,” the spokesman said.

Reports have revealed that Tom Mackey, the then Limerick City manager stated that the project would provide an opportunity to deliver on housing in the city centre.

In a letter to the Department of Environment, in October 2011 he wrote: “It is our contention that the “Opera Site” provides significant opportunities to deliver on this strategy through the provision of housing (social and private) which will increase demand in the City centre, through new commercial and retail opportunities which will refocus economic activity on the City Centre, and through the potential for new civil spaces that will entice people back from the suburbs into the City core.”

“From our initial assessment the site could comfortably accommodate in excess of 160 residential units with the remainder for much-needed retail/commercial activity with potential for civic uses,” he added.

Limerick Solidarity Councillor, Cian Prendiville said that “Solidarity and the #AffordableLimerick campaign had always argued that including residential accommodation in this site was the sensible thing to do to reinvigorate the city centre.

“What this letter from the then City Manager proves is that even the council realised that,” he added.

“Right from the beginning, the plan was to include at least 160 apartments as part of the development, including social housing. The council themselves argued that this would help boost the city centre, and ‘entice people back from the suburbs”.

“But somewhere between 2011 and today the council gave up on this plan for the city centre to be a place to work, socialise and live. Precisely at the time when the need for social housing and affordable mortgages was growing, the council turned their backs on plans to provide 160 apartments on this site,” Cllr Prendiville concluded.

There is no date as yet for a decision on the application for the site. An Environmental Impact Study has yet to be submitted and that is in train at present.

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