A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build a youth centre in the heart of Ballynanty has been given the go-ahead by city planners.
Limerick Youth Service has teamed up with JP McManus for the €1.8m scheme, which will see a new split level youth club centre in the shadow of Thomond Park.
The development will include a reception area, games hall, stage areas, a self-service kitchen, and a boardroom as well as other ancillary facilities
Some 20 construction jobs are expected to be created over an 18 month building period.
But many residents have been left “outraged” at the grant of permission, and will meet next week to formulate an appeal to An Bord Pleanala. They are upset at the loss of a green field in their estate, and have also expressed concerns over an increase in anti-social behaviour in the area.
Instead, they want to see the Limerick Youth Service relocate its building to empty land in Moyross, with local developer Ray Conway offering them land rent-free.
But northside Labour councillor Tom Shortt, who has backed the scheme, say the scheme will “reduce anti-social behaviour, rather than increase it.”
Councillors will still play a major role in whether the youth service can build in the area.
Since the service is building on a council site, it is up to members whether to ‘dispose of the land’ to them.
Northside Fine Gael councillor Michael Hourigan is calling on all councillors to vote to block the disposal when the matter comes to City Hall.
“I still feel the same as I did before: I feel strongly that the residents in the area will have their quality of life interfered with. I feel it is the wrong decision. We should not impose anything on people, especially as it is in an estate,” he said.
Sinn Fein’s northside councillor Maurice Quinlivan added: “The basic principle of community development should be consultation, and we do not seem to have had that.”
Anne-Marie Stacke, of the Ballynanty Residents Opposition Committee, confirmed that they will be appealing City Hall’s grant to An Bord Pleanala. A meeting is set to take place in St Munchin’s Community Centre, at 7.30pm on Monday night to discuss this.
She said: “Residents are outraged, and disgusted wit City Council. It’s a shame the councillors did not have the power to do anything. We still have to dispose of the land, so I hope councillors make the right decision on this.”
Ms Stacke claimed she waited ten days before the council notified her, as an objector about the grant of permission, a move which she says reduces the residents’ time to appeal.
Cllr Shortt said the grant of permission “makes sense”.
“I think it is a really sensible plan by the youth service to bring three projects together on the northside under one roof in a custom built building, which will be economical to run, and will provide enhanced services to young people where they are badly needed,” he said.
“I think it is a positive thing to see young people engaging with services, and courses, and with training opportunities and personal development,” he added.
Cllr Shortt believes the residents opposed are “unrepresentative of the larger population on the northside who want to see this type of facility put in place”.
The Youth Service were not available for comment as the Leader went to press.
Planners gave the plan the go-ahead with 13 conditions, including a stipulation the facility can open between 8.30am and 10pm