A CITY developer has offered the Limerick Youth Service a two-acre site near the Longpavement landfill to stop them from building in Ballynanty.
Ennis Road-based businessman Ray Conway, who once employed 110 people in his firm Conway’s Coaches, owns an 11-acre patch of land on the northside. And he is prepared to give two acres of it to the youth service as a ‘gift’ to allow them to develop.
Using funding from the JP McManus foundation, the Limerick Youth Service are planning to build a multi-purpose youth centre on a small patch of land in front of Thomond Park.
But the plan has proven controversial with residents who are not keen to cede one of the last green spaces in the Ballynanty estate.
Now, Mr Conway, who purchased the huge patch of land in 1978 in the hope of enticing the IDA onto it, is offering it “with no preconditions” to the youth service.
“If I give this, there would be no conditions: I do not attach conditions to gifts. When I saw the plans [for the youth centre] I thought this would be an ideal location. It would bring some life back to the area,” he explained.
When Mr Conway brought the land, it was zoned for industrial use. However, three years later, it was rezoned as open space which meant he was unable to invite industry onto it. The land was not rezoned until 2004.
Asked what he is offering the youth service, he said: “I can offer them a virgin site, without conditions or restrictions. There would be no objections from my own point of view.”
He has not yet contacted the youth service yet, and says he does not want to get involved in the “politics” surrounding the new building which is planned.
“I am not calling anyone’s bluff. I am making a genuine offer. I have no wish to be involved in the politics of this. I bought this land when my son was two months old. He will be 34 in July. I have spent a couple of hundred thousand pounds trying to sell it. I’d just like to move on and do something useful with the land,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Mr Conway also owns land at Bourke Avenue, Mayorstone Court, and at The Elms in the North Circular Road in Limerick.
He has clashed with Limerick City Council on a number of occasions, claiming he has been denied reasonable applications to develop the greenfield site.
In 2003, former council planner Dick Tobin recommended he sell the land to the council on a compulsory purchase order - a comment which commenced a war of words.
It is for these reasons that he has stepped up now.
“I have been stopped in every other way possible to develop this. I have spent thousands and thousands, but gotten nowhere. I feel if I put in a planning application, it would be impossible to pass anything. I feel I come up against mountains of red tape,” he explained.
Limerick City North councillor Maurice Quinlivan of Sinn Fein supported Mr Conway’s idea, saying: “It’s a win win for everyone.”