Limerick city ‘must avoid rental doughnut effect’

Limerick city ‘must avoid rental doughnut effect’

By Pádraig Hoare

The rent disparity between Limerick city and county could worsen the so-called “hollowing out” of the city centre, despite major investment allocated to revitalise its streets.

That was one of the findings of an economic report compiled for Limerick City and County Council by consultants EY-DKM Economic Advisory that aims to compare progress with other areas of the country.

“Limerick’s economy continues to perform well, positioning itself as an affordable and attractive alternative to Dublin, in spite of challenges on the horizon in the shape of Brexit and a possible international slowdown,” the report said.

But, there is not sufficient housing in the city to cater for first-time buyers and young families, while rents are compelling people to look to the county, the report warned.

“With a 41.6% cost differential in average rents between Limerick city and county, such disparity could further exacerbate the ‘doughnut effect’ experienced by Limerick city in recent years, whereby schools, shopping centres and other facilities locate on the outskirts of the city. This increases the challenge of revitalising the city centre.”

Over €9m, including €4.1m in European funding, is set to be invested in the redevelopment of O’Connell Street, while a further €6m in regeneration funding was allocated to seven key projects in the city, the report said. It said since 2013, 15,800 new jobs have been created in Limerick, with more than 3,000 jobs created in the county in 2018.

Limerick was similar to other regions when it came to attracting and retain talent, while risks relating to Brexit are difficult to quantify, especially at a regional and county level, it said.

Between 2017 and 2018, investment in Limerick grew by 46%, with companies having invested €2.2bn since 2013, the monitor found.

“Growth is set to continue with the development of a number of iconic projects in Limerick, including the eagerly anticipated development of the Limerick Twenty Thirty Opera and Cleeves Sites, the University of Limerick’s €8m investment plan for a city centre campus and a number of other large-scale private investments,” Limerick Mayor James Collins said.

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