LIMERICK City has the capacity to grow â€œastonishingly quicklyâ€, with a population of up to 250,000 feasible over the next 25 years, according to Prof Merritt Bucholz, head of the school of architecture at UL.
â€œLimerick, moreso than any other city in Ireland, has the capacity and breadth to grow very rapidlyâ€, Prof Bucholz said at a presentation to City Hallâ€™s transport committee. What he described as the â€œbones of the cityâ€ - its main streets and transport arteries - were â€œvery strongâ€ and the city would become a more attractive place to live as the costs of rural living mounted.
Some â‚¬23 million had been spent maintaining rural roads in County Limerick last year, and â€œas that becomes financially more difficult and the cost of oil grows, this will increasingly shape where people liveâ€. Limerick, he said, needed to plan now to be a â€œmore liveable city centred not around the metric of the car but of the citizen, the human being, the burgherâ€.
Cllr Diarmuid Scully said the city had been â€œswimming against the tide for 60 yearsâ€ as it saw people and industry moving out. â€œBut that tide of suburbanisation is going out now - and for solid economic reasons. The future is in the cities,â€ Cllr Scully said.
Cllr Joe Leddin looked forward to the day when Prof Bucholz vision of cities - where schools and other amenities were within a short walking distance of where people lived - was realised. â€œRight now we have the farcical situation where two thirds of students going to Colaiste Chiarain (Croom) are from the city. Education is supposed to be the great leveller but in Limerick it is more of a great divider because of the selective enrolment policies of some schools forcing children either to travel distances across the city or out of the city entirely, with all that entails in terms of extra traffic,â€ Cllr Leddin said.