The Limerick Leader - Monday, 15 March, 2010

Limerick Regeneration cost has fallen to €1 billion, says boss Kenny

By Nick Rabbitts

THE chief executive of the city's two regeneration agencies says the full cost to the taxpayer for the regeneration schemes will probably be around €1 billion, down from an estimated €1.7 billion two years ago.

And Brendan Kenny expects the project to provide 48 social housing units in Moyross should be under construction this time next year.

"The initial plan which set out a spend of €1.7b included everything, including new schools and a railway station in Moyross.

"But the reality is some of these things will not now happen. Inevitably, the cost of construction has reduced to the stage where the real cost of the project is now around €1bn.

"I think the figure of €1.7m frightened a lot of people, because it was not achievable," he told the Limerick Leader.

Mr Kenny said the regeneration agency had approval to build 48 social housing units in Cliona Park in the heart of Moyross - with a planning application due before city hall shortly.

He said: "It's something we have been pushing for a while, and obviously it needs to go through planning, but I am hopeful we will have a builder in place before the end of this year. A bit of variation needs to be done, as the land is currently green space."

Mr Kenny also said that all being well, work should commence on a major housing scheme in Edward Street, outside the regeneration areas by early 2011.

Housing Minister Michael Finneran said last week that a construction project in Edward Street would deliver 70 units of housing to people, currently living in Ballinacurra Weston.

Mr Kenny said this initiative is city-council led, but he is hopeful that work will get under way on this project by early next year.
As the regeneration scheme stalls, many residents have expressed anger, claiming their lives were better before the John Fitzgerald report pledged to improve Moyross, Southill, St Mary's Park and Ballinacurra Weston.

Mr Kenny accepted this - and also pointed out that the regeneration agencies will be looking to refurbish the more modern homes in Moyross, instead of total demolition as was originally proposed.

"We are suggesting more refurbishment in Moyross, rather than a total demolition.

"Some estates may now be retained rather than demolished.
"We would like to see a kick start on some of the refurbishment work, but it is totally dependent on funding and approval," he said.

"I can understand where people (who are upset] are coming from. There has been progress, but the reality as is with the demolition of houses, some people may believe their communities are being destroyed even further. Its a complicated issue - things have become worse for some, while others things have got better."

Mr Kenny welcomed last week's Prime Time programme - despite the negative image it portrayed of Limerick - because it may help speed up the regeneration scheme.

"Despite all the money we have spent already, people are not seeing any change.

"That's why we need to speed up the programme. If the Prime Time programme helps secure investment then it has to be a good thing," he said.