An Taisce Submission on Limerick City & County Council LUCROC Project.
29 June 2017
It is important to set out the drivers of the LUCROC project and the defined objectives. From the original press briefings:
“This ERDF co-funded grants scheme seeks specifically to increase the number of integrated regeneration initiatives to improve the urban environment and revitalise Irish urban areas. It makes available a new round of capital grant assistance for approved projects in designated urban centres which fit with integrated strategies to tackle the social, economic, environmental, climate and demographic challenges affecting the areas concerned, thereby contributing to the improvement of the development potential of the concerned areas and enhancing their economic, social and environmental conditions”
“This commitment to the revitalisation of O’Connell Street, the heart of the Limerick/Shannon gateway, will result in quantifiable improvements to urban mobility and the urban environment.”
It is fair to say that the preferred option represents an improvement of the public realm on O’Connell Street. The restrictions to car traffic are welcome and the moves to improve the public realm experience for pedestrians and cyclists are also welcome.
Unfortunately, it is also fair to say that what is proposed does not go nearly far enough, and can scarcely be described as a revitalisation.
The proposed design ensures that ‘through traffic’ will remain a major feature of the street and this will be at the expense of creating a modern, appealing, people-oriented civic space as befits a modern and ambitious European City.
From the Roches Street junction westwards, O’Connell Street will remain a two-lane, single direction roadway and this represents a real missed opportunity for Limerick. A car-free plaza with landscaping, public art, playgrounds and performance spaces would represent a far greater value to the city than the roadway which dominates the ‘preferred option’. We firmly believe that the cost in term of restricted car movements or removing car movements altogether is easily outweighed by the long term benefits that will accrue to the city by applying significantly more ambition to the project.
It is An Taisce’s view that such an opportunity to truly revitalise the city centre seldom presents itself and should be seized. Should we do so, there will be very real and tangible economic and social benefits, and the knock-on effect will be a realisation of the potential of our Georgian heritage and the positioning of our city as an important one in the European context which attracts people to live in, to work and to visit.
An Taisce appreciates the efforts of Limerick City & County Council and its consultants in developing these plans, but urges both to revisit these plans and to be braver.