‘Europe’s first university town’: Reaction to expansion plan for UL campus to Clare

Jess Casey

Reporter:

Jess Casey

Clare County Council and UL are seeking approval for a new ‘university town’

Clare County Council and UL are seeking approval for a new ‘university town’

CONCRETE details are now needed regarding plans to build ‘Europe’s first 21st century university town’ on the Clare-side of the University of Limerick campus.

With work expected to start in 2021, the €2 billion project has the potential to create 3,500 jobs in County Clare, according to Clare County Council (CCC).

The proposed development will be “highly significant” for Limerick city, complementing the Limerick 2030 plan, according to the latest documents on the project, however, no further details on this statement are currently available.

“An Taisce is very, very keen to find, just as everyone else is, the details of this plan,” An Taisce Limerick chairperson Dr John Logan said. 

“Too often citizens and citizens groups are operating in an information deficit.

“We’d like to see maps, we’d like to see projections and so on.”

Clare County Council is seeking government approval to designate the UL campus in County Clare and its hinterland as the South Clare Economic Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) - which it claims will be will be “Europe’s first 21st Century University Town”.

SDZs are “hugely significant,” Dr Logan added. “Probably the best known designation was the Adamstown development which goes right back to the Celtic Tiger days and obviously ran into difficulty with the Celtic Tiger.” 

Adamstown, just south of Lucan, was billed as a “whole new town” to house 20,000 people at the time of its construction, Dr Logan said. However, by 2016 just 1,100 homes were completed. 

“I think we should look very carefully at what happened there.” 

An Taisce Limerick works closely with An Taisce Clare and will be monitoring the project together, he added. 

“An Taisce isn’t opposed to development and it isn’t necessarily opposed to this particular development but we need to know what it entails,” said Dr Logan.  

The proposal is “an opportunity” for Limerick and Clare to create a “strong urban counterbalance to Dublin”, according to Limerick city TD Jan O’Sullivan.

“I do believe, however, that there needs to be widespread consultation and cohesive planning,” the former Education Minister added.

Mayor of Limerick city and county Cllr James Collins said: “As Mayor of Limerick, director of 2030 and a member of the UL governing authority, the focus of all those three organisations is to have a meaningful UL presence or campus in the city centre.

“I’m confident that they will come into the city centre and that UL are serious about a city centre campus.”