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Plans to build new homes in Ireland's poorest area criticised as having 'no logic'

Limerick City Council have announced plans to build 12 homes in St Mary’s Park.

St Mary’s Park, Limerick
St Mary’s Park, Limerick
Image: Google Maps

LIMERICK CITY COUNCIL has announced plans to build 12 new homes in St Mary’s Park, a residential area found to be the poorest part of the country, according to a Pobal deprivation index report, published last week.

However, a former mayor of the city, councillor John Gilligan, has criticised the housing plan, describing it as having “no logic”.

The council announced today it has signed off on a contract to build the 12 new units.

Despite original regeneration plans announced a decade ago, to replace the estate’s 1930s housing stock, no new houses have yet been built.

Boarded up and burnt out houses, some located close to occupied homes, continue to blight the estate.

The council said the new homes “will be built on vacant sites cleared following the demolition of a number of properties”.

“The homes will be able to accommodate families of varying sizes,” it stated.

The new units, designed by the award-winning Paul Keogh Architects, “will serve to knit the existing gapped streetscapes back together”.

However, Gilligan claimed the new homes would be built on existing “narrow” sites, and located next to occupied old housing stock, which he claimed are “past their sell-by date” and should be demolished.

He called on the council to “immediately desist” its plans, and instead, replace all of the existing old housing stock.

“Build them on the existing green spaces, and, eventually over the years, [while] it may take longer, I believe it will be much cheaper, and a much better job.”

“At some stage, we are going to have to knock them anyway. That was the original plan, knock them all and rebuild them,” he said.

The [original] houses were built at the beginning of the 20th Century – it’s simply not adequate putting new houses in between them.

“I’m suggesting to management that we immediately desist on [this] and that we actually start building rows-of-new-houses, instead of putting new houses back into very narrow spaces,” he said.

You can’t have two houses on either side which are eighty years old, and then build a new house stuck in the middle – that doesn’t make sense to me.

“At some stage, the [old] houses on either side are going to deteriorate and the new houses will probably have to come down with them as well,” he said.

Gilligan said that there is no long-term planning in place and that there is “no logic” in what the council are doing.

“If we continue on this path, all we will do is throw good money after bad, and we will not be solving the problem,” Gilligan said.

He added: “The regeneration of St Mary’s Park isn’t working, despite the best efforts of the people who are trying to do it.

“It simply isn’t working…we need to re-evaluate the whole thing,” he said.

Limerick City and County Council said in response:

“The construction of the houses in St Mary’s Park is part of the physical development of the area as envisaged by the Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan (LRFIP).

“At the heart of the work we are carrying out is the provision of safe and sustainable communities, where people of all ages can enjoy a good quality of life, a decent home and a sense of pride about their place. Our overarching aim is to develop well serviced and attractive neighbourhoods which will be physically connected and fully integrated with the social, economic and cultural life of Limerick.

“These new houses will provide housing for 12 families and will improve the general view of the estates by filling in gaps in the housing stock.

“Limerick City and County Council is part way through a thermal upgrade programme to bring all homes, regardless of ownership – public or private, up to a certain BER rating.
Flood protection measures have been constructed along part of King’s Island near Verdant Place, while further flood defence measures for the remainder of King’s Island are being designed.

“Plans are at an advanced stage for a new community centre. A quarter of a million euro has been allocated for a new playground and there is funding to upgrade the footpaths and roads.

“Investments in St Mary’s AID have allowed them to develop services (elderly services, cafe), new social enterprises (meals, bike shop) which employ local people have been set up; and unemployed people have been supported into training and jobs.”

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David Raleigh

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