PLANS to hold concerts in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds and attract millions of euro to the city have been put on hold for potentially another year, as local residents have taken their objections to the national planning authority.
Limerick City Council recently gave the go-ahead to plans to hold concerts in the Gaelic Grounds on the Ennis Road, despite objections from four residents associations.
Pairc na nGael could hold concerts for up to 49,000 people - nearly twice the capacity of Thomond Park - but now the plans will not be decided upon by An Bord Pleanala until July 24.
If approved, the GAA board believe the earliest possible concert date could be in 2014 and said they would be “cognisant of the wishes of the local residents” with regard to acts staged in the stadium, and the audiences they could attract. They have not entered any discussions with concert promoters to date.
The proposals have proven unpopular with residents, with formal objections lodged by four residents associations - Clareview, Coolraine Terrace, Ashbrook, Ennis Road, and the Greystones and District Residents Association.
Oliver Mann, chairman of the county board, said he is “disappointed” the plans have been appealed, but said that is the right of residents, and that they are still hopeful of a positive outcome.
Mr Mann said he sees the Gaelic Grounds as complementing existing concert venues in Limerick, and not as a “rival” to Thomond Park, given the different capacities for audiences in both stadiums.
“This could be huge for the GAA and Limerick in general. I’m hopeful that the positives would far outweigh the negatives when a decision is made. It would boost the revenues of the stadium, hotels and the local economy in general,” he told the Limerick Leader.
The Clareview residents association has argued that there is no proper parking plan in plan for thousands of people expected at concerts.
They claimed that the current parking plan submitted by the GAA and approved by Limerick City Council is “a work of fiction”.
Furthermore, they state the concerts will become the “lowest common denominator” to raise money.
“The result of this will be issues with public order, such as drunkenness, violence and vandalism to public order in the area. We are entitled by law to the use and enjoyment of our homes,” they state.
Coolraine Terrace residents association said “parking is always a problem” at GAA matches in the stadium, and said residents have been verbally abused in the past when requesting people to move their cars.
Greystones Residents Association believe there are inadequate facilities at the Gaelic Grounds to cater for the crowds such major events would attract.
They said they are “distressed, annoyed and very upset to think and peace and tranquillity of this mature residential area would be disturbed by the high level of noise, litter, risk of anti-social behaviour and disturbance that concerts would cause”. A petition with over 60 signatures against the plans “spoke volumes” regarding their level of objection, they stated.
Ashbrook residents also submitted an objection with 60 signatures.
Other residents associations point out the 1997 plan to extend the stadium precluded the use of concerts.
At the time, city planners stated: “The use of the stadium shall solely be for field games, other sporting purposes and non-commercial community uses.”
In the application, they state that 5,000 letters will be sent to residents north of the river in advance of any concert being held, and point out the availability of 4,000 car parking spaces in Limerick city, as well as shuttle bus services from the city centre.