The recent debate around the proposed Parkway Valley development, now christened the Horizon Mall, has once again raised questions about our city centre as a retail destination.
In June 2013 Limerick produced the first Economic and Spatial Plan for Limerick. The plan, which is more commonly known as Limerick 2030, outlines a number of key projects for urban and regional revitalisation and more importantly is the first long term strategy we have ever seen for our city and county.
|Signatories of the Limerick Charter – a key move in 2013|
Limerick City Business Association and other key stakeholders have taken a very strong position in relation to this proposed development. Those in favour in of the development would argue the opportunity for job creation. However the Limerick City Business Association along with other key stakeholders would view the city centre, in accordance with the 2030 plan, as the key priority for job creation going forward.
I attended the launch of the Limerick 2030 plan last year and was heartened to witness many key Limerick leaders publicly sign the Limerick Charter which “commits signatories to joint planning, integrated development and deployment of resources”.
What struck me most that day was a real sense that we as a city and region were finally singing off the same hymn sheet. Gone would be the days where poor planning decisions could threaten the vibrancy of our city centre. Gone would be the days where two local authorities both representing Limerick would compete against each other rather than work in a mutually beneficial sphere. Gone would be the days where our city wallowed in the depths of negativity.
I believe that this week’s decision to refuse planning permission for a scaled-down version of the original Parkway Valley development is the first key step towards demonstrating a joint local authority which is finally putting the city first. The 2030 plan seeks to deliver Limerick to a place where it becomes a ‘major economic force in the Irish and European economy’. Limerick city centre is seen as being the heart of any regional renaissance.
|‘The skeletal reminder of Celtic Tiger excess, poor planning and doughnut effect’ – Photo: Deirdre Power|
For every job the Parkway Valley development would produce how many job losses would we see in our city centre? For every shop that opened in the Horizon Mall, how many would we see closed in the city centre? For every shopper who crossed the threshold of the Parkway Valley, how many would cease shopping in our city?
We have not heard the end of the Parkway Valley debate. In the meantime it idly sits, a skeletal reminder of Celtic Tiger excess, poor planning and a doughnut effect that has threatened the stability of the city we all call our home.
I firmly believe in the Limerick 2030 plan. I believe that it has the potential to ensure Limerick becomes a desirable place in which to do business, live, work, play and shop. We can only achieve the 2030 ambition by sticking to the plan.
This week’s decision, the first major planning decision by our joint local authority, goes some way towards demonstrating that we are now focussed on a future that puts the city centre first.