An Taisce urges UL to eliminate free parking

AN Taisce wants an end to free parking at the University of Limerick, describing the campus as “unsustainably car dependent”.

AN Taisce wants an end to free parking at the University of Limerick, describing the campus as “unsustainably car dependent”.

The heritage body has urged UL to begin a “phased reduction” in the number of parking spaces available around the campus - currently over 3,000 - and argues that only disabled drivers should be exempt from parking charges in future.

An Taisce’s comments to Limerick County Council are in response to a planning application by UL for its proposed Bernal building, a €52 million science block.

The university has a total of 3160 parking spaces on its grounds, of which 842 are reserved for staff who are issued with permits.

A charge is levied at two campus car parks which have a total of 673 spaces.

In its mobility management plan, submitted to the council as part of the planning application, the university states it is considering introducing fees in other car parks - as long as users of the campus are given greater incentives to use public transport, cycle or walk.

“The university recognises that the availability of abundant free parking increases demand and lessens the attractiveness of other more sustainable transport modes. At present, pay parking is already in existence in two of the university car parks. The university is considering the rollout of pay parking in other existing car parks as a means of controlling demand and encouraging a modal shift to more sustainable transport modes,” the report states.

But it adds: “it is not recommended that this option should be implemented in isolation as viable alternatives must be provided for those who are willing to change their travel habits”.

The report outlines a car pooling scheme for staff and new facilities for cyclists - including over 50 cycle stands provided in the last year - as being among the efforts to reduce the transport carbon footprint at UL.

But An Taisce’s Ian Lumley described UL’s mobility management plan as “deficient in timetables and targets”, before calling for more widespread parking charges and a reduction in the amount of spaces.

Planners at Limerick County Council are due to decide on the proposed Bernal Building by December 2.

The proposed facility is to boost research capability in science and engineering with a number of new labs. A 200-seat lecture hall is also proposed for the building, which is to be linked to the existing materials science building by a pedestrian bridge.

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