Big plans for old Cleeve's factory in Limerick

Consultation process to be launched over nine-acre site

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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nick@limerickleader.ie

Big plans for old Cleeve's factory in Limerick

Major plans have been revealed for the Cleeve's site

A TOWERING 14-storey office block and a food training centre are being proposed for the site of the former Cleeve’s factory.

It comes as Limerick City and County Council prepare a masterplan for the future use of the former condensed milk factory – a key plank of Limerick 2030 – which it bought from the Kerry Group last year.

A public consultation process on the future uses of the nine-acre North Circular Road land is to get under way in the next few weeks, with council official Kieran Reeves pledging: “We will be moving on this site very quickly.”

At a meeting of the economic committee this week, he unveiled proposals to build a towering office block at the northside site, an educational campus possibly hosting a national food and hospitality training centre, with members also wanting to see something which would draw tourists.

A number of units at the land cannot be altered due to their being protected structures including the huge chimney stack.

“We could build the offices around the former chimney stack, and still have sufficient space for other uses,” Mr Reeves told councillors, “There needs to be a  debate before we go out and do a masterplan.”

But in response to a question from Fine Gael councillor Stephen Keary, he said he hopes the local authority will have a masterplan under way six months from now.

Cllr James Collins, Fianna Fail, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to have an educational campus in the heart of the city. There is a shortage of people in the hospitality industry, and I think this will be a start to have people studying in Limerick city.”

Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler added: “This could be the last significant site available for development in Limerick. One thing we are crying out for is a convention centre.”

But Cllr Cian Prendiville of the Anti-Austerity Alliance warned that there is a need to develop social housing at Cleeve’s.

“I think it would be a mistake to assume people want a 15-storey office block there. It would also be a mistake if council spends millions on three big projects – the Opera Centre, the Hanging Gardens and Cleeve’s – and not a single social house is built. Spending millions developing offices in the middle of a housing crisis does not make sense.” He also called for a commemoration of the Limerick Soviet at Cleeve’s, taking into account the role the former factory played in the lockout.

Cllr Joe Leddin, Labour, said: “I see no reason why this should not advance to planning as quickly as possible. Investor confidence is high – we should strike while the iron’s hot.”

Mr Reeves confirmed the submission of any plans for the site will come in the form of a private application. If an office block is developed at Cleeve’s, it could join similar proposed units at Howley’s Quay and the Hanging Gardens site.