Permission sought for retail/residential scheme in Limerick City

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

ONE of the developers behind a project to create a retail/residential zone in the Georgian Quarter has admitted he is unsure whether the scheme will go ahead in the next five years.

ONE of the developers behind a project to create a retail/residential zone in the Georgian Quarter has admitted he is unsure whether the scheme will go ahead in the next five years.

Noel Harrington was speaking after the Catherine Street Partnership - a consortium of businessman for which he is one member - sought an extension to its planning permission to build three new retail units, and 16 apartments.

If it goes ahead, the plan will be to knock down the current derelict units at 38 - 41 Catherine Street, and build the retail units on the ground and basement levels, with the apartments on the upper levels.

However, Mr Harrington says while he hopes the scheme will go ahead, he is unsure.

Under planning legislation, a grant of planning permission lasts for five years.

Since the scheme was given the go-ahead by the planning authority in 2007, it has become necessary to apply for a five year extension.

“We have a planning application which was expiring, so we wanted to keep it alive,” Mr Harrington explained.

Asked if he expects the scheme to take place over the next five years, he added: “It is all down to the economic conditions at this moment, no-one knows. We just wanted to reapply for it to make sure permission is still there on the property.”

The plans for the Georgian Quarter were expected to be a lot larger.

The Catherine Street Partnership has sought to build more than 600,000 square feet of Retail Space, with the consortium saying at the time, the €40m project would generate 200 construction jobs.

The mammoth project would have seen seven houses demolished, including the former Limerick Leader print press. These would have been replaced with six floors of commercial accommodation, and three levels of below-ground parking.

Limerick City Council gave the plans the go-ahead, but An Bord Pleanala overturned this decision on appeal.

Limerick City South councillor Maria Byrne said if this amended development goes ahead, she would hope niche businesses would take priority.

“That part of the city has been derelict for a long time. We need to encourage people to come back into live and work in the city centre. Obviously, I would encourage people come back in, and to develop that area would be good. But the thing is it needs to be properly developed. We need to encourage people to come in and locate in the city centre. This is what the regeneration of the city centre is about,” the Fine Gael councillor told the Limerick Chronicle.

Local businessman Shane Gleeson, of Spar, said they remain “100pc supportive of the plans”, but acknowledged it may take some time for them to progress in the present economic climate.

Planners are expected to make a decision by Saturday, May 19.