Construction work begins on controversial Limerick housing scheme

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

CONSTRUCTION has commenced on a €4.5m development for the elderly in the city centre.

CONSTRUCTION has commenced on a €4.5m development for the elderly in the city centre.

Builders this week set up shop in Vizes Field to start working on the second phase of a development which will see 28 new housing units.

Although councillors gave the development the go-ahead in November 2010, it was not until earlier this year when Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan confirmed progress on the project, which will house elderly people from the regeneration areas.

However, residents in the surrounding streets are furious at the loss of one of the few remaining green spaces in that part of the city.

They had turned up en masse at council meetings where the project was being discussed to register their opposition, and argue that development is better in some of the many derelict units in the city centre.

Despite this, a majority of councillors gave the scheme the go-ahead.

And on Monday, construction workers are on site with the development expected to be complete within seven months.

One resident, Valerie O’Connor of Bowman Street is particularly upset, saying her 13-year-old son Saoirse can no longer play soccer on the site.

“I cannot believe that it is finally happening. I cannot hide my disappointment. The council did not want to know about our arguments. It is frustrating that [former city manager] Tom Mackey, who was the force behind this is now no longer in his job. The most frustrating thing is there are other places they could have put this site. We went through so many options with the council such as retrofitting old units and redesigning the project. But they did not want to know,” she said.

Ms O’Connor said she, and other local residents feel lied to by the southside politicians.

She added: “I loved waking up to trees and green fields. Now I look out and see Portacabins in the field. We are all surrounded. People wonder why young people grow up with anti-social problems. I cannot grow food now outside the house because of fumes.”

Ms O’Connor added that if she could afford to move, she would do.

Another resident Eugene Ryan added: “The biggest disappointment I have is how the local community were ignored, and the council did not work with us in any way to deliver a better design. The concern now is that because the design is so poor, this building will have problems into the future, not only for the local community, but for the residents themselves.” This is the second phase of the Vizes Court development which began in the 1970s.