University of Limerick applies for change of use at City Centre campus

The UL City Centre campus on Sarsfield Street.

THE UNIVERSITY of Limerick (UL) has applied to Limerick City and County Council for planning permission to change the use of its City Centre Campus.

This application is to facilitate the first phase of development at the former Dunnes Stores building on Sarsfield Street which is currently zoned for retail use.

The building was purchased by UL for €8 million in 2019 and the application is for a change to educational use so it can be of benefit to more students.

Documents supporting the application states that the university is not currently planning to permanently move any department or faculty to the city centre campus.

However, UL expects there will be constant footfall and some students and staff could be permanently located there from the main campus in Plassey.

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Last September, the university said it intended that the UL city centre campus would have upwards of 3,000 students and 250 staff in the building when it reaches its full potential.

The university also plans for the Sarsfield Street campus to have good digital and physical connectivity with Plassey through public transport and cycling infrastructure.

The city centre campus takes in some 5,618 square metres of floor space and houses the UL FabLab digital fabrication laboratory, an innovation lab, and areas for community engagement.

As well as the proposed change of use, the University have also applied for permission to erect a two-metre high screen on the roof to hide equipment used for mechanical ventilation.

The building has undergone a facelift in recent months, with a mural covering the building, painted by Digo Diego, an urban artist and muralist from Spain.

UL President Professor Kerstin Mey said that site was of major importance for both the University and Limerick City as a whole.

“UL is committed to Limerick city and do want to use the existing building in the meantime to engage with the city, its communities, businesses, and industry in a meaningful way.”

Until the larger, long-term plans for the City Centre Campus are designed, Professor Mey said that “the interim use will focus on expanding and exploiting the capacity of the city campus to drive a hub to prototype and intensify our engagement with the city and businesses on the regeneration of the urban area going forward.”

“There will be public consultation on the longer-term use, as part of the masterplan and framework process.”

A decision on the planning application is due by June 29.