A PLAYGROUND is to be developed on the grounds of the Crescent Shopping Centre instead of what Limerick County Council had originally hoped would be playing pitches between Ballinacurra Creek and the Mungret railway line.
The pitches and a wildlife sanctuary along the riverbank were requested by the council as conditions in granting permission to the developers of the sprawling Kilteragh estate nearby. These were to be accessed via a pedestrian bridge over the line but Kilteragh developers McInerney Construction were refused permission by Irish Rail to provide the crossing.
Stapleyside - the company behind the Crescent Shopping Centre - had bought the land between the line and the creek from McInerney in 2008 and entered into an agreement with Limerick County Council on complying with the conditions and providing the amenities McInerney failed to do.
Matters were further complicated with the completion of the Southern Ring Road which flies over St Nessan’s Road on its way to the Limerick Tunnel. RPS consultants, for Stapleyside, wrote to the county council that this meant the site could no longer be accessed by road and would make it unsuitable for sporting or amenity use in cases where emergency vehicles couldn’t get in.
RPS had proposed on March 28 last year to build a playground at the Crescent Shopping Centre “in lieu of the requirements of playing pitches and wildlife sanctuary to the north of the Mungret railway line”.
But Gerry Sheeran, then the acting director of services in the planning department, wrote back that this was “unacceptable to the council” and that this had been made clear in previous correspondence to Conor Kenny, a director of Stapleyside.
The council would “consider” the playground in place of the pitches and footbridge only but reminded RPS there was still a requirement to provide a wildlife sanctuary in accordance with the Kilteragh permission.
“Please be advised that the planning authority will initiate legal proceedings against your client...within one month unless a planning application is made for the playground,” Mr Sheeran had warned on May 16, 2012.
That application was duly lodged and was granted permission last week, subject to a number of conditions including around pedestrian safety. It will be adjacent to the Garryowen car park, to the rear of the shopping centre and cinema complex, and open seven days a week.