THERE has been a guarded welcome to news that housing may be back on the table at the €170m Project Opera scheme.
Campaigners and politicians alike have said the fresh proposals, revealed by the Limerick Leader’s last week, are welcome, but ultimately the proof will be in the delivery.
Designers of updated plans presented to councillors have indicated 1,200 square metres will be set aside in Upper Patrick Street for a mix of uses including office, higher education and crucially, residential.
Solidarity councillor Cian Prendiville said: “There is a glimmer of hope now residential will be included. But we must keep pressure on the council to make sure they follow through on this.”
He said any accommodation provided must be at affordable rates.
While Limerick Twenty Thirty insisted the possibility of housing in Project Opera was never “ruled in or ruled out”, Cllr Prendiville believes public pressure has made a difference.
“Solidarity, other parties, Novas and others made submissions saying it would be a grave mistake not to include some accommodation. So it’s clear this has had an effect,” he said.
Councillor Joe Leddin, whose Labour party called for houses in Opera, said: “I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up a copy of the Limerick Leader to see the headline ‘Housing to the fore in Project Opera.’”
“Initial plans showed 99% office type commercial development, and no residential aspect, which would have been hugely disappointing in my view,” he said.
Cllr Leddin said without this, the city could be “bustling by day, but dead at night”.
He also said with no housing, An Bord Pleanala would likely have rejected the plans, causing “additional delays and huge embarrassment” to Twenty Thirty bosses.
Novas, the homelessness charity, was one group which also made a submission on the €170m, 3,000-job scheme.
Dr Una Burns, its communications officer, said: “We’re glad the council has listened to the concerns in regard of housing on the site. The Opera site provides immense potential to alleviate some of the housing problems.”
She pointed out a “dearth” of city homes, and high rents.