MINISTER for Finance Michael Noonan has announced a pilot project aimed at urban regeneration in his native Limerick, as well as in Waterford city.
The Living City Initiative will provide tax incentives to encourage people to come back and live in Limerick’s historic buildings, as well as encouraging regeneration in the retail heart of the city. Residents will be able to avail of tax relief for the entire cost of refurbishment works performed in these Georgian houses.
The document from the Department of Finance cites figures from the state agency Pobal which highlight Limerick city as having a deprivation figure of -6.66 for 2011, the lowest in the country, a population change of -4.5%, also the lowest, and the largest unemployment rate for any Irish city, at 28.6%.
The incentives will be targeted at owners and occupiers of properties, which need to be brought up to a habitable standard or improved, rather than aimed property developers. With the assistance of the Limerick local authority, specific Georgian residential areas have been identified as being suitable for inclusion in the pilot scheme.
The new initiative will be provided for in the Finance Bill, which will be published this Wednesday. Minister Noonan has been examining such proposals since last year, and indicated his preference for the project since October last.
The minister said he was particularly concerned about the Patrick Street/Rutland Street area - the site of the Opera Centre retail development, which was purchased from NAMA by Limerick City Council with the help of central government last year.
The report notes that successive Governments have recognised that “Limerick has its own unique problems. While it is vital to redevelop the housing estates, this will achieve little if the city centre ceases to be vibrant and self-sustaining. As the population of Limerick city centre is currently estimated to be less than 2,000 people, many dwellings lie vacant.
“Unfortunately, there are clear signs that the lack of maintenance is having a profound effect on some buildings. While some of these properties are very well-kept others are run-down and show clear signs of neglect.”
Those interested in applying for the scheme can do so at .