First step taken in bid to develop UL’s new economic zone

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The UL campus with the Clare section on right

UNIVERSITY of Limerick and Clare County Council have joined forces to clear the way for the development of a new economic zone on the Clare side of the UL campus.

They have made a joint application to the Government to have a 260-acre extension to the campus designated as an Economic Strategic Development Zone to fast-track development and give greater certainty to the project partners.

Both parties believe that the site has the capacity to become a game changer both regionally, nationally and internationally.

They say that the designation of the lands as an Economic SDZ will enable the site to generate upwards of 3,500 jobs with additional employment being generated in the construction phase and subsequent spin-off developments.

Foreign and indigenous enterprises will partner with the University in designing and delivering dual, immersive education, advanced research as well as re-skilling and up-skilling.

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It is anticipated that the decision regarding the designation will be made by Government later this year. If the designation is granted, a two-year consultation will take place with landowners and stakeholders in relation to the development of a masterplan for the project.

UL President Professor Kerstin Mey and Clare County Council chief executive Pat Dowling have written to Local Government Minister Darragh O’Brien to seek the designation. The application  has been made through the UL and Clare Economic Development Agency Designated Activity Company (DAC).

Professor Mey said that the decision to seek the designation was a culmination of the joint will to facilitate the development of Academies of Learning and Centres of Excellence on the University campus in County Clare.

“It is intended that this zone would be accessible and integrated with Limerick city and have sustainable transport links, including the redevelopment of the Errina canal link,” she explained.

“This is a world class, global location for industry of scale that will allow the University to expand over the next 50 years of its lifetime, and give us more space for student accommodation as well as advanced learning and research spaces.

“We do this hand in glove with our commitments to the city and the recent opening of the UL City Centre Campus is evidence of that. We have great ambition to grow our existing campus footprint and extend further into the city at the same time.

“To make UL the catalyst of change it needs to be to attract students and world class researchers and academics, the city, the future SDZ and the campus expansion are integrated elements of our vision for the future of this University,” Professor Mey added.

Clare County Council chief executive Pat Dowling said the South Clare/UL Economic SDZ will be an environment with high quality placemaking providing for a full range of education, research, living, working, and recreational spaces integrated within the University campus environment.”

Economic forecasts have suggested that the site could generate a gross added value of €1.795 billion annually to the Irish economy.