Company under fire for not providing housing

A development company set up by Limerick City and County Council to accelerate €500m of inward investment assets has hit back at claims it is “failing” to provide any housing units.

Solidarity councillor Cian Prendiville claimed plans by the Limerick Twenty Thirty company to develop a €150m, 50,000sq m office and retail Opera Centre, had “failed to provide a single unit of housing at a time of a major [housing] crisis”.

“We are in the middle of a housing crisis. In particular, there is a real lack of any affordable, quality accommodation in the city centre. And yet now the council is proposing to spend €150m on a development that will not provide a single unit of housing.

“This comes on top of the €11m being spent on plush office space at the Gardens International site, which also would have been well able to accommodate some apartments,” he added.

In response, Limerick Twenty Thirty explained that its development plans are aimed to improve local employment and socio-economic conditions.

It said it would take six years to deliver the Opera Centre project and that the plans are “based on significant market research” and was “essentially delivering what the market wants”.

“Through that level of investment and resultant employment of up to 3,000 people at the site, we will create the market for residential properties, leading to significant investment in the development of a range of residential sites across Limerick,” it stated.

“We will be working with the relevant stakeholders with regard to Limerick’s residential requirements.

“This will be delivered through a mix of private sector and local authority investment.”

It revealed: “With regard to the latter, Limerick CCC has received funding from the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund to develop 400 houses in Mungret by 2021 and, together with plans for Greenpark, there’s potential for 3,400 homes at these two sites alone.”

This week, the Novas homeless agency said there were “unprecedented” numbers attending its Limerick family support service.

It said there are nearly 60 families living in emergency B&B accommodation in Limerick, an increase of 38% in a one month period. Figures for the end of June show Novas worked with 97 homeless families including 227 children.

“In Limerick City more than 10% of all property is vacant. More social housing must be provided to reduce our over-reliance on the private rented market,” said Novas head of policy, Una Burns.

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