Prime site in Limerick could be sold for new housing project development

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

The former Guinness site on Upper Carey’s Road

The former Guinness site on Upper Carey’s Road

COUNCIL bosses are planning to sell a prime Limerick city centre site which could accommodate up to 60 new houses.

At this week’s housing committee meeting, it was revealed the former Guinness depot site at the Upper Carey’s Road is on a list of portions of land the local authority wishes to dispose of.

The site – near to Limerick’s bus and train station – has lain vacant for almost a quarter of a century after the former City Council purchased the land with the aim of developing social housing.

The Leader understands the council’s rationale is because there is sufficient social housing in the Upper Carey’s Road.

But councillors have vowed to block the sale of the land, unless there are guarantees that the land will be developed for both social and affordable housing.

“In the middle of a housing crisis, to be selling off land when we know the private sector is hoarding land is ridiculous,” said Solidarity councilor Cian Prendiville.

The councillors’ intervention is key, as ultimately it is they who have the power to decide or not whether the land is sold – and what conditions any sale takes place under.

“The danger is when you sell off land to the private sector, you’re delaying the process. They could sit on it for a while. It would be faster to draw up plans and build directly rather than sell it to a developer and leave it for them to decide,” he said.

Labour councillor Joe Leddin, who has long campaigned to have the site developed, said: “I’m not going to support a wholesale sell off.”

“I have no issue with bringing in a private builder, we have done that before. But what I am looking for is a mix of social and affordable houses, rather than the whole scheme, or having 90% at market value,” he said.

Cllr Leddin pointed out that were the land sold to developers, legally they would only have to offer 10% of the development to clients on the housing waiting list.

Councillor John Gilligan dismissed the council’s rationale of social housing in the area.

“We want this site for social and affordable housing,” he said, “While there is a huge housing crisis, our primary responsibility is to the people on our waiting list. I’m not here to solve the housing crisis. I’m here to look after the people on the housing waiting list in Limerick City.”

However, Fianna Fail councillor Jerry O’Dea, who also sits on the housing committee, believes the private sale is “perhaps not the worst outcome” for the old Guinness site “in light of trying to get things moving”.

“We have already built houses on the Hyde Road, and the council is also focusing on other sites. With this particular site, as part of any sale, it would be obligatory social housing be provided to the tune of 10%. This might be the right approach here,” he said.

The old Guinness site measures some 0.8 hectares, with a council document suggesting the land could build between 40 and 60 units.

A spokesperson for the council confirmed the authority is seeking to sell the land for “mixed tenure” development.

Separately, the local authority has also earmarked a number of other parcels of land in the city for smaller development, including the Fairgreen Road, Childers Road, Sarsfield Court, Mary Street and the Toppins Field.