New plan for Limerick regeneration

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

A BLUEPRINT for the regeneration process in Limerick is to be presented to government officials next month.

A BLUEPRINT for the regeneration process in Limerick is to be presented to government officials next month.

Oliver O’Loughlin, the City Council official responsible for the process, revealed to councillors that up to €35m will be spent on the process this year, a figure similar to recent years.

The new blueprint will be presented in full to officials at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in the next few weeks.

Mr O’Loughlin said the scheme will be more focused on revitalising communities, and retrofitting homes, rather than demolition.

“The original plans [unveiled in 2008] were aimed at total demolition. The money is not there now. We are looking at retrofitting and some building,” he explained.

Schemes due to be brought in shortly include an upgrade to the water supply in St Mary’s Park, and the introduction of a new junction off the Limerick-Cork road near Southill, a measure designed to open up the southside.

Mr O’Loughlin, who took over the role as director of regeneration after the original agencies disbanded last summer, said the new plan will be based “on real resources, and the views of the community”.

“We need to ensure we do not create an expectation we cannot deliver on,” he said.

The director said that while the original, €3bn plans, were focused on the removing of families from the estates, the new measures will be designed to ensure as many people remain there as possible.

Social intervention, community engagement, and involvement from government are three aims.

In order that the plan is successful, Mr O’Loughlin said it is important to keep the communities informed.

“If there are delays on some projects we plan to deliver, we will bring other plans forward. We need to keep people informed. There has been unfortunate commentary from some groups, but I think people will bear with you if they know what is going on,” he explained.

In response, councillors expressed cautious optimism.

Southside councillor Pat Kennedy, Fine Gael, said he hopes lessons are learnt.

“The taxpayer and the communities did not get value for money in the way the [original] regeneration process worked out,” he said.

Mike McNamara, president of the Limerick Trades Council, said local employment must be the key. The new plan is expected to be unveiled next month.