The empty Greenpark site, photographed this week PICTURE: MICHAEL COWHEY
LIMERICK City and County Council should move to purchase the former Greenpark Racecourse site at the South Circular Road.
That’s the view of Labour member Joe Leddin after the vast site was placed on the market for €12m.
The site has not been operational as a racecourse since 1999, the year Cllr Leddin became a member of the local authority.
Now, he has written to council chief executive Conn Murray asking he consider acquiring it and developing it along the same lines as its plans for Mungret.
In his letter, he writes: “The 116-acre site is the last remaining undeveloped land bank in the city. Its strategic location adjacent to the Southern Ring Road and close proximity to the city centre offer significant opportunities to complement our plans to transform Limerick in the years ahead.”
He said the fact the Mungret plans are progressing shows that the council can ensure proper and sustainable development for the betterment of a community.
“Greenpark racecourse now presents a unique opportunity for the Council to continue the ongoing transformation of our city under the vehicle of Limerick 2030 and develop this site to reflect the need for additional services while incorporating the history associated with Greenpark,” he said.
The City West councillor believes the move to impose high levies on owners of undeveloped land perhaps paved the way for the sale, which was revealed on Friday.
But he warned that any development of the site must exclude traffic access from the South Circular road end, as it is already overwhelmed by traffic access.
The road is a residential area in which a number of junior and post-primary schools are, and already suffers heavy traffic.
A number of planning proposals in the past, which have included access to the site from the South Circular Road end, have failed. There is better access from the Dock Road end of the site, which would not overwhelm an already busy route, said the councillor.
“As a local councillor and resident, I want to advise any potential purchaser of the site that while the community would welcome development that would enhance the surrounding area and wider city all access from any future planning application must not include the South Circular Road,” he said.
Racing in Limerick has taken place at seven venues for over 225 years with the first Limerick racecourse being established in 1790.
The current racecourse, Greenmount Park, was the first new racecourse developed in Ireland for 60 years. The first meeting at the Patrickswell site was held in October 2001 and attracted over 18,000 racegoers. The racecourse counts the Munster National and its Christmas Racing Festival among highlights.