LIMERICK City Council earmarked land near Thomond Park to be used for a potential hotel development, it has been claimed.
Consultants for the Limerick Youth Service, which is hoping to build a centre on a site in the centre of Ballynanty, have revealed how they wanted to initially build on a corner of Hassett’s Cross, currently green space.
But they claimed the council ruled the idea out, saying it was already designated for commercial use including a hotel.
Northside Labour councillor Tom Shortt and director of service Kieran Lehane both confirmed the idea to bring in a hotel, or other commercial development was on the table.
In a letter to the planning authority, Simon Clear and Associates, the consultants acting for the youth service, explained that they “requested Limerick City Council consider the site on the corner of Hassett’s Cross” for use as a new northside youth centre.
“A meeting was held on site with representatives of Limerick City Council in June 2010. Limerick Youth Service was informed that the Hassett’s Cross site was eararked for a development that would be complementary to Thomond Park, e.g. a hotel,” the consultant wrote.
Instead of this, the Limerick Youth service turned its attention to an alternative site in the centre of the Ballynanty estate, a plan which has attracted opposition from local residents.
Although there are currently 17 hotels in the city area, an inn at the home of Munster Rugby could represent an attractive proposition, with thousands of people attending sports and conferencing events there, as well as the impending tenancy of Limerick FC at the stadium.
However, Sinn Fein’s northside councillor Maurice Quinlivan said: “It would be premature at the moment, in this economic climate. I think we have enough beds in the city at present. There are a number of hotels struggling to stay open as it is. It might be a good location for a hotel: it could serve Thomond Park and the Gaelic Grounds, but many spectators here are day travellers”.
However, Cllr Shortt said the success of the Absolute Hotel, on the King’s Island, provides evidence a hotel could work.
“It makes some sense that a hotel might work beside Thomond Park. It is a sporting attraction, and people might decide to stay over at a place which is adjacent to the ground, including teams training there,” he said.
Limerick Youth Service will learn in the coming days whether it has been successful in its attempts to build a centre in Ballynanty.
Cllr Shortt said: “I would be hopeful people would re-evaluate a development of this dimension on the northside, and not turn it away. I would be very hopeful of a positive decision from City Council.”
Anne-Marie Stacke, Ballynanty Residents Opposition Committee said: “I am worried this might just be a paper exercise for the council, without taking into consideration the views of the residents, who have spent ten months on this. Whatever decision is made, it must be the right one for the community.”