Architect says Limerick can treble in population

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

LIMERICK City has the capacity to grow “astonishingly quickly”, with a population of up to 250,000 feasible over the next 25 years, according to Prof Merritt Bucholz, head of the school of architecture at UL.

LIMERICK City has the capacity to grow “astonishingly quickly”, with a population of up to 250,000 feasible over the next 25 years, according to Prof Merritt Bucholz, head of the school of architecture at UL.

“Limerick, moreso than any other city in Ireland, has the capacity and breadth to grow very rapidly”, Prof Bucholz said at a presentation to City Hall’s transport committee. What he described as the “bones of the city” - its main streets and transport arteries - were “very strong” and the city would become a more attractive place to live as the costs of rural living mounted.

Some €23 million had been spent maintaining rural roads in County Limerick last year, and “as that becomes financially more difficult and the cost of oil grows, this will increasingly shape where people live”. Limerick, he said, needed to plan now to be a “more liveable city centred not around the metric of the car but of the citizen, the human being, the burgher”.

Cllr Diarmuid Scully said the city had been “swimming against the tide for 60 years” as it saw people and industry moving out. “But that tide of suburbanisation is going out now - and for solid economic reasons. The future is in the cities,” Cllr Scully said.

Cllr Joe Leddin looked forward to the day when Prof Bucholz vision of cities - where schools and other amenities were within a short walking distance of where people lived - was realised. “Right now we have the farcical situation where two thirds of students going to Colaiste Chiarain (Croom) are from the city. Education is supposed to be the great leveller but in Limerick it is more of a great divider because of the selective enrolment policies of some schools forcing children either to travel distances across the city or out of the city entirely, with all that entails in terms of extra traffic,” Cllr Leddin said.