Limerick: 'A city waiting for dramatic population growth'
THE GROWTH of regional cities, including Limerick, has to be driven to offset the “overheating” of development and population growth in the capital, a provisional plan for Ireland in 2040 has outlined.
The plan over the next 25 years aims to balance economic and social growth across the country, which has been described by officials as “almost like a decentralisation plan”.
In advance of officially launching the plan, the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Simon Coveney, outlined that Limerick’s advantages for growth include its deep-water port, international airport, good sporting facilities and a historic city core.
Limerick, he said, is “a city waiting for dramatic population growth”.
Labour deputy Jan O’Sullivan said the plan “offers huge potential for Limerick”.
“There are very positive opportunities there, and Limerick has huge potential to achieve much more. We have seen great jobs growth, we have the plan for remodelling the city, and we have to develop a vibrant living heart to the city.
“The M20 will also be crucial for us, and we have to keep up the fight with Cork for that,” said deputy O’Sullivan.
Among the challenges for Limerick – given the creation of nearly 1,000 jobs in 2016 and hundreds more to date so far this year – is the construction of housing required to meet increasing demand.
With this in mind, another local plan has highlighted the need for some 3,000 additional houses in Limerick by 2030.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said it’s “quite obvious that Limerick will be one of the central cities in any development plan for the country.”
Director of policy with Limerick Chamber, Caroline Kelleher, said; “it is now essential that there is a commitment from Government to incorporate the proposed M20 motorway into the Capital Plan and improve the links between the cities on the Atlantic Corridor.
“Likewise, the Northern Distributor Road around Limerick City is necessary to improve accessibility into the city, business parks and the education institutes,” said Ms Kelleher.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Minister Coveney launched the public consultation for the new national planning framework in Maynooth University – the first of two public consultation exercises, amongst a a series of regional and stakeholder events in preparing Ireland 2040 – Our Plan.
The Taoiseach said the plan aims “to secure sustained, long-term and regionally balanced progress on social, economic and environmental fronts.”
Minister Coveney said the plan will need to address certain key areas, including an expected national population increase of around one million people.
It outlines that “regional cities such as Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford will grow but not at the scale needed to making any ground in relation to Dublin. Dublin will continue to dominate and potentially overheat drawing in more and more of overall national development, while at the same time sprawling into the surrounding Leinster counties.”
The public can make views by March 16 online www.Ireland2040.ie.
Those views will be used to shape a draft copy of the plan which is likely to issue for further consultation prior to the summer.
A final version of the plan is likely to be submitted to Government in the autumn.