TWO retail businesses that had planned to open in Limerick city centre have withdrawn their interest, a local councillor has claimed.
Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler was speaking at a metropolitan district meeting this week, where the decision by An Bord Pleanala to grant planning permission to the Horizon Mall development on the Dublin Road was discussed at length.
Although Cllr Butler refused to named the firms, he said they would be “domestic and well known”. It comes after talks he had with someone familiar with city businesses.
Question marks have now been raised as to the viability of the Limerick 2030 plan, which provides for a major rebuild of the city centre.
With this in mind, Sinn Fein leader councillor Maurice Quinlivan submitted a notice of motion calling on council management to hold a briefing session on the progress of the Limerick 2030 plan.
“This decision has caused a huge amount of concern. It is important to see where we are at in terms of the city centre. We all wish to see the city centre redeveloped,” he said.
Fianna Fail leader Cllr James Collins pointed out the Limerick 2030 plan is now over two years old. He called on council staff - who initially approved plans for the mega shopping centre - to be answerable to members.
“This retail project was granted by the old County Council staff on more than one occasion, and these people are still working for us. I would like them to come in and tell us why An Bord Pleanala disagreed with them on the latest occasion,” he told councillors.
“At present, I do not have the information I require as a councillor on the Opera Centre, and the planning decisions that are being made.”
Cllr Cian Prendiville, Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) said: “A lot of politicians have been sitting on the fence on this, saying that like some parts and not others. The AAA has been clear about this from the beginning: this is not a good location for a shopping centre. It would be better developed for the city’s interests.”
Meanwhile, Cllrs Butler and Collins said elected members were kept out of the loop in terms of the recent announcement on the Opera Centre’s redevelopment.
“Councillors were left unaware and uninformed, and we have to read about it in the paper. It makes a mockery of our role. I would like to lodge my disappointment at this,” Cllr Butler said.
Cllr Collins asked why councillors were not represented, adding: “Why did we not get a presentation on the Opera Centre plan?”
In response, meetings administrator Eugene Griffin said: “The mayor represented the council at the press conference.”
Economic director Pat Daly said the council is currently reviewing the An Bord Pleanala decision on Horizon Mall, and its impact on Limerick 2030.
“On completion of this review, a briefing session will be arranged for all councillors,” he added.