Limerick councillors look to challenge 2040 national planning framework

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

Limerick councillors agreed that proposals under the draft National Planning Framework (NPF) must not go unchallenged

Limerick councillors agreed that proposals under the draft National Planning Framework (NPF) must not go unchallenged

“Dublin is sprawling. If this plan is implemented, Ireland will become a Dublin sprawl,” Cllr James Collins FF said as Limerick councillors agreed that proposals under the draft National Planning Framework (NPF) must not go unchallenged.

The NPF is intended to map out how best Ireland can develop between now and 2040 when the population is expected to be up to 1m higher than today.

“It is supposed to be designed to correct some of the imbalances in the country,” Conn Murray, chief executive of Limerick City and Council Council explained.

“But based on population forecasts, the actual population distribution, in percentage terms, will remain the same.”

The outcome, he predicted, would be more of the same, with Dublin having a huge percentage of the population while Limerick, even with a forecast population increase of 50,000, would remain the same in relation to Cork or Dublin.

“How can you introduce a plan that will reinforce the status quo?”, Mr Murray asked.

Limerick and other Mid-West local authorities and agencies made a submission to the NPF, Mr Murray continued, but none of it was reflected in the draft plan when it came out.

Now, the council was being asked to make submissions on the Regional Spatial Strategy ahead of the finalisation of the NPF and where the various cities had already been categorised.

“There is no logic to it,” Mr Murray said, arguing that Limerick had more potential to grow and develop and should not be blocked in becoming an international centre for growth as well as a national and regional one.

“It is important the councillors take a position on this,” Mr Murray said when he brought the points to the attention of councillors on Monday.  

He also explained his concern at the rush in finalising the plans.

Councillors were unanimous in their support to see Limerick designated as both a national and an international growth centre and also agreed to hold a special meeting on the matter.

“I am very worried about what is going on,” Cllr Noel Gleeson FF said adding that it was a “pure disgrace” that Limerick was not being recognised in the same way as Dublin and Cork.

“It is anti regional balance, anti Mid-West, anti Limerick and above all it is anti-rural,” Cllr John Sheahan FG said. 

The draft plan only forecast population growth of 900 for Newcastle West by 2040 and 300 in Abbeyfeale. If this were to hold, he argued, planners would have to put a cap on growth in Co Limerick.

Dublin commanded 40% of Irish GDP, Cllr Joe Leddin Lab said, twice the percentage of London. The planners were “fixated” on the line along the eastern seaboard and he warned about declassification of towns under 10,000.

“It will add to rural depopulation,” Cllr Seamus Browne SF added.