An illustration of how the development at Punches Cross might look
SEVEN groups and individuals have lodged formal objections to the multi-million euro student accommodation plan opposite Punch’s Cross.
Developers are planning a towering 324 bed student block on the site of the former Dan Ryan’s garage. As well as this, 30 build-to-rent apartments are also being proposed.
As more than 100 living spaces are planned, the application has been fast-tracked to An Bord Pleanala under legislation aiming to speed up the delivery of homes in Ireland. However, the scheme has proven unpopular among residents who are concerned at its height of seven storeys, the impact of extra traffic, and concerns with respect to its previous uses of a petrol station and quarry.
This week, councillors met to discuss the application, and formulate their own submission to the national appeals body, in the form of a chief executive’s report.
Metropolitan district leader Cllr James Collins is concerned that so-called “cuckoo funds” will buy 30% of the apartments planned for the scheme, locking out prospective homeowners.
“It’s a growing problem now where international funds come in and buy apartments en-bloc. They have been dubbed cuckoo funds as they push first time buyers out of the market, depriving them the chance of buying an apartment,” he said.
Labour councillor Joe Leddin said: “It’s unfortunate this decision is being made by An Bord Pleanala. It puts views of the local authority and its elected members to one side. It’s being handed up to a faceless group which is answerable to no-one.”
Cllr Daniel Butler, Fine Gael, said he has “huge concerns” at the plans to make the Rosbrien Road a three-lane street as part of the project.
“It beggars belief how we can allow this to happen. We need to have a controlled junction there,” he told the meeting.
He expressed concern at the “social mix”, with more than 300 students moving on site.
But Fianna Fail councillor Abul Kalam Azad Talukder said: “Students are not outsiders. They are our family. Limerick has a good name as a student city and we need to make them feel welcome.”
Social Democrats councillor Elisa O’Donovan, who lives in O’Connell Avenue, was one of the objectors to the development. She pointed out there are a number of existing land sites which could be utilised for student accommodation – highlighting the Westbourne site at Courtbrack Avenue.
“It’s prime student accommodation and ready to use. This is where we should be calling out privately owned developments. It would be more suitable for student accommodation than landing a very large scale project to residents in O’Connell Avenue.”
A decision is expected on the plans by October 7 next.