Limerick city centre living 'must be mixed with economic action'

 Limerick can learn lessons from suburban London, says leading architecht

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Limerick city centre living 'must be mixed with economic action'

Rosie Webb, Mark Brearley, Gerry Miley and Miriam O'Donoghue at the event

ANY new housing development in Limerick city centre must not be at the expense of its industry, a leading international architect has warned.

Although there is a huge call for housing, especially in the city centre, Mr Brearley says the example of London, where he is based, offers a cautionary tale.

Here, the outer suburbs of the British capital have seen their industries slip away in favour of more housing to cope with a spiraling population.

Speaking at the first Living Limerick: City Engage event, held in No 2 Pery Square this week, Mr Brearley pointed out that 14% of office space in the outer London boroughs has been lost over the last decade – industry has suffered.

“One-seventh of London’s jobs are being treated with contempt and are being given a kicking. They strip out the high street, compact it, and remove workshops, and replace them with just housing.”

Referring to a strip-metal firm, which lies on the doorstep of soccer team Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium in north-east London, he said: “Archway Sheet Metal is having its factory expropriated. Like many others, the owners do not know what to do next”.

“We are sub-urbanising economically. As housing is intensified, the local economy narrows to what is just there to serve the local population. Opportunities are being curtailed. We are seeing a shrinkage. A mismatch between the city’s dynamic and physical fabric,” he explained.

Mr Brearley said the challenge for any city, where housing is being developed in an urban centre, is to achieve much stronger economic density, and more co-habilitation.

“Sharing the city. We should be able to intermingle, we should be able to embed,” he said.

Limerick must be prepared to move small industries into its city centre, he added, and have housing developed around it.

He gave examples from across Europe of industry sitting alongside housing – such as a car repair garage below apartments in Brussels, small workshop buildings in Germany, with housing above, and a big supermarket delivery hall on the doorstep of an apartment complex. 

Speaking earlier in the evening, Irenee Scalbert, of the school of architecture at the University of Limerick, said the city’s Crescent should in fact be considered a “double crescent”.

“We call it a Crescent. That’s actually a misnomer. It’s actually two crescents facing one another. What is formed with these two crescents are kind of two elipse,” he said.

The first Living Limerick: City Engage festival continues this Thursday, with three events at the Limerick Chamber’s building in 96 O’Connell Street.

These include a talk by Dr Matthew Potter on governing Georgian Limerick.

More information: 061-407100.