AN TAISCE has been accused of “delaying the economic development of Limerick” after the heritage body objected to a plan to expand the National Technology Park.
In a project known as ‘Hamilton House 3’, Brookvale Hamilton Plaza Ltd successfully gained permission from County Council to build a new four-storey office block which could eventually employ up to 600 people.
Fianna Fail local election candidate Jerry O’Dea has told the Limerick Leader he understands a major client has been lined up to take over part of this building, and is to create up to 150 jobs.
But An Taisce has appealed the expansion plan to An Bord Pleanala, in a move which has left Mr O’Dea furious.
The appeal centres around a need for more sustainable travel methods to the site - currently home to Northern Trust, e-net, Thomson Reuters, and the IDA among others.
They want Brookvale Hamilton Plaza to provide data on the number of employees, parking spaces and travel mode of staff, stating that the park as it is is “entirely unsustainable”.
The submission follows another intervention made to Regeneron’s new factory in Raheen.
Although that was withdrawn, fears were raised that this project could be delayed.
Now, Mr O’Dea has voiced similar concerns.
“This is the second occasion An Taisce has appealed a decision of the local planning authority, and again in this case, there are a large number of jobs at stake. A medical support company wants to create between 100 and 150 badly needed jobs in our area. What we need are more jobs, not An Taisce blocking and delaying projects, and delaying the economic development of our area which is so badly needed,” he said.
Mr O’Dea warned: “The more we delay companies like this, the more likely it is they will seek to locate elsewhere.”
But James Nix, director of policy and operations at the group rejected this, saying: “When we meet with companies expanding their workforce, our experience has been that they are keen to facilitate new staff with shower facilities, lockers, cycle stands, public transport enhancements and the nomination of a mobility coordinator - all the things which help make Smarter Travel possible.”
He said the planning authority should automatically ask any applicant behind a large project for a Smarter Travel mobility plan.
Mr Nix added the Smarter Travel policy is a “win win win” for everyone, because it reduces oil import costs, makes roads safer for all, lowers pollution and increases money in the domestic economy. An Bord Pleanala will decide on the application by August.