Chapter 6 Economic Development
6 - Economic Development
The Southern Environs is an expanding vibrant area with a skilled workforce and the required infrastructure to promote inward investment and the creation of more local jobs. Limerick City & County Council is committed to facilitating the creation of employment within the environs. This plan provides the appropriate framework for development through the provision of adequately zoned lands and policies, which support economic and appropriate retail development.
The objectives for each of the land-use zones provide agility to respond to the demands from those looking to invest in the Southern Environs. This plan sets the right conditions to secure inward investment and interest in the Southern Environs as a business location and firmly embeds an economic development agenda into all other goals making their successful delivery more achievable.
Part A - Enterprise
6.1 Enterprise Context
The National Planning Framework (NPF) sets out a vision for the development of a strong economy supported by enterprise, innovation and skills as a National Strategic Outcome (NS05), which will depend on creating places that foster enterprise and innovation and attract investment and talent. The NPF states that this can be achieved by building regional economic drivers. Together with the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Southern Region, the NPF places a strong emphasis on compact, smart, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
The Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan (MASP) for Limerick Shannon sets out a 12-year strategic planning and investment framework for the Metropolitan Area. The Metropolitan Area needs a dynamic, diverse and high profile City Centre to function, and the City Centre needs a fully functioning and progressive Metropolitan Area to prosper. The RSES therefore recognises the need to collaborate, rather than compete, for the greater benefit of the Metropolitan Area on the issue of employment creation.
The RSES seeks to re-intensify employment in Limerick City and Shannon and activate strategic employment locations to complement existing employment hubs in the City Centre and near third level institutions. The RSES identifies the University Hospital Limerick and Raheen Business Park as Strategic Employment Locations in the Southern Environs. These locations have the potential to support sustainable development of brownfield and greenfield sites for large scale employment uses in tandem with associated infrastructure requirements.
The Limerick County Development Plan 2010-2016 (as extended) sets out the strategic context for economic development of the County. Subsequently, the Limerick Local Economic and Community Plan was adopted in 2016 and should be read in tandem with this chapter.
6.2 Economic Development
The economic profile of the Southern Environs reflects its strategic location on the National Motorway and Regional Road network, its proximity to Shannon International Airport, Limerick City and the synergies with the third level education providers at University of Limerick, Limerick Institute of Technology and Mary Immaculate College.
The employment generating land uses of the Southern Environs are concentrated in Ballycummin. In this regard, according to CSO POWSCAR workplace data, the Electoral Division of Ballycummin had a daytime working population of 11,527 persons in 2016. This renders the Southern Environs the second most important area for employment outside of Limerick City Centre (12,427 working persons) and ahead of Castletroy (Ballysimon and Ballyvarra) (10,145 working persons).
The population of the Southern Environs aged 15 or over at work was 59% in the 2016 Census. The workforce in the Southern Environs comprised 31% managerial and technical staff and 18% non-manual workers. The most popular means of travel to work, school or college was by car, which accounted for 71.3% of journeys. The Census also indicated that 49.5% of commuters left home for work, school or college between 8am and 9am, indicating a relatively short to medium commute distance. In addition, the majority (73.3%) of journey times were less than half an hour.
Figure 11: IDA Raheen Business Park
Existing employment is concentrated in three areas of the Environs including Raheen Business Park (5,060 persons), University Hospital Limerick (2,860 persons) and Dooradoyle District Centre (1,369 persons).
6.3 Economic Strategy
As part of the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area, the Southern Environs must ensure that the conditions for economic resilience are embraced and developed, through creating a vibrant and diversified enterprise base with strong, healthy and connected clusters.
The LAP supports opportunities for employment creation, business and technology development in the Southern Environs to facilitate economic growth of the Metropolitan Area, in accordance with the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy and the Limerick County Development Plan 2010 – 2016 (as extended).
6.3.1 Supporting Economic Growth
The MASP indicates that in accordance with a projected population of 30,134 persons in 2026 and 45,132 persons in 2031, additional jobs would be in the order of at least 19,000 to 2026 and 28,200 to 2031 in the Metropolitan Area.
In accordance with the RSES, the Metropolitan Area has capacity for economic expansion of scale at Strategic Employment Locations outside of the City Centre. In the Southern Environs, Raheen Business Park and the University Hospital Limerick have been identified as Strategic Employment Locations. These strategic locations offer the capacity to cater for investment that requires greenfield or brownfield sites, access to an international airport and third level graduates.
University Hospital Limerick (UHL) is the Model 4 hospital for the region providing major surgery, cancer treatment and care and emergency services, as well as a range of other medical, diagnostic and therapy services. The hospital is the hub for three smaller hospitals in the region located at Ennis, Nenagh and St. John’s. UHL has recently opened a new Accident & Emergency Department and a new 60-bed hospital unit is under construction.
IDA Ireland’s Raheen Business Park has an additional capacity of 31.5ha. of development land. The Business Park serves a number of large multinational companies including Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Analog Devices, Dell, Banta and Stryker Corp. The LAP supports the on-going operations of this business park and any further appropriate levels of development during the lifetime of the LAP.
The Local Authority will work with local and national agencies and Departments to facilitate continued investment and ensure the role of UHL and Raheen Business Park as Strategic Employment Locations in the Metropolitan Area is fulfilled.
6.3.2 Availability of Zoned Lands
The zoning and servicing of land for high tech/ manufacturing, enterprise, employment and industrial uses, in the Southern Environs, in the immediate vicinity of national strategic transport infrastructure, represents a unique opportunity to develop clusters of complementary enterprises and more generally a larger, more resilient and diverse economic basis for the Metropolitan Area, county and region.
Given the high demand for employment type lands in the Metropolitan Area additional land has been included for Enterprise and Employment uses. In this regard, an area of 204ha. of “High Tech/ Manufacturing”, 110ha. of “Enterprise and Employment” and 340ha. of “Industrial” zoned land is available for development in the Southern Environs.
Economic Development: Strategic Policy:
To promote, facilitate and enable economic development and employment generating activities in Strategic Employment Locations and other appropriately zoned locations in a sustainable manner.
Objectives: It is an Objective of the Council to:
ED O1: Facilitate the future sustainable development of the Southern Environs to optimise the benefits of its strategic location in the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area, in accordance with the National Planning Framework and the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy.
ED O2: Facilitate and support University Hospital Limerick and Raheen Business Park as Strategic Employment Locations, in accordance with the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan.
ED O3: Promote a diverse range of employment opportunities by facilitating appropriate development, improvement and expansion of enterprise and industry on appropriately zoned lands, subject to compliance with all relevant Development Management Standards of the Limerick County Development Plan 2010 – 2016 (as extended) and any replacement thereof.
ED O4: Ensure development on the “High Tech/ Manufacturing” zoned lands to the west of Raheen Business Park shall be subject to the following:
a) Cognisance to the residential amenities of the properties to the north and western side of the site and the adjacent agricultural
b) Access to the “High Tech/ Manufacturing” zoned land to the west of the R510 will be limited to the existing roundabout to the east of the site;
c) Applications for development in the low-lying area in the southern section of this zone shall have regard to the attenuation infrastructure and shall include a site specific flood risk assessment, including proposals to mitigate and control the level of run off and attenuation.
ED O5: Encourage the redevelopment of vacant commercial units, brownfield, derelict, and infill sites for enterprise and industry creation.
ED O6: Work with IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Office and other agencies organisations and individuals in promoting enterprise and industry in the Southern Environs.
ED O7: Support and promote start-up enterprises, small to medium scale industries and services in co-operation with the Local Enterprise Office.
ED O8: Facilitate and promote the provision of incubator units for start-up businesses and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
ED O9: Facilitate the provision and expansion of all services and infrastructure, which would contribute positively to the attraction of the Environs to economic development.
ED O10: Support home based economic activities which are secondary to the main residential use and which can be accommodated without adverse impacts on the amenities of adjoining residential property, by reason of traffic, noise or other planning criteria. This objective can facilitate the achievement of climate targets by reducing the need to travel.
ED O11: Support the continued operation and reasonable expansion of non-conforming uses, subject to maintenance and protection of existing environmental, visual and residential amenity.
ED O12: Ensure large-scale employment development proposals incorporate opportunities for the active and passive recreation of employees.
Part B Retail
6.4 Retail Context
An objective of the Limerick Shannon MASP is to promote the Metropolitan Area as a cohesive area, with the City Centre as the primary location at the heart of the area and Region. The City Centre is to be the primary commercial area, supporting a range of retail, tourism, social and cultural activities. Limerick City Centre is to be repositioned at the top of the retail hierarchy through improving the range and quality of shopping on offer and creating an enhanced customer experience of visiting the City Centre.
The Joint Retail Strategy for the Mid-West Region 2010 - 2016, indicated that too much trade was being lost to suburban locations and sought to re-establish the City Centre at the top of the regional hierarchy, as the preferred location for new retail development. It is now an objective of the MASP to support Limerick City Centre in maintaining its dominant retail function in the Mid-West hierarchy.
The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Southern Region requires the preparation of a Joint Retail strategy for the Metropolitan Area, which will form the basis for retail planning in the city and environs. The RSES supports and promotes the continued expansion and enhancement of retail development within the City Centre. The Strategy will support the retail hierarchy and outline the location, quantity and type of retail required in support of the settlement hierarchy. The Strategy will identify any requirements for additional retail floor space in the Metropolitan Area, based on population projections and income and having regard to the degree of vacancy in existing retail areas.
In accordance with the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy, the proposed Limerick Development Plan will aim to consolidate Limerick City Centre as the primary retail destination in the region and to be the prime focus for future retail development, in particular, higher order comparison shopping. In this regard, the retail sector in the Southern Environs will have a role in supporting the primacy of the City Centre.
6.6 Supporting The City Centre
The County Development Plan 2010 – 2016 (as extended) indicates that the Crescent Shopping Centre in Dooradoyle is the only Tier 2, Level 1 Retail Centre in the Metropolitan Area. The main components of the centre are the Crescent Shopping Centre, Limerick County Council buildings and a public library. The Crescent Shopping Centre functions as a major retail destination for the Mid-West region.
There are also a number of Local Centres in the Southern Environs including at Mungret Village, Courtfield Shopping Centre at Gouldavoher, Racefield Centre at Father Russell Road, Dooradoyle Road Neighbourhood Centre at Sluggary and Ballycummin Neighbourhood Centre.
The success of the shopping centres in the Environs is in contrast to the stagnation and decline of the retail sector in the City Centre, where a large number of vacant units are evident
in the core retail area. The migration of retail footfall from the City Centre to the suburbs is exacerbated by the increasing trend towards on-line retailing.
All new retail development in the Southern Environs will be considered premature pending the completion of the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Retail Strategy, in order to protect the vitality of the City Centre in accordance with the objectives of the NPF and RSES.
Pending the completion of the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Retail Strategy, the LAP anticipates that additional retail development in the Southern Environs will be achieved through the redevelopment of vacant commercial units in the first instance.
6.7 - District Centre
The Tier 2, Level 1 Crescent Shopping Centre in Dooradoyle functions as a significant District Centre acting as a major retail destination in the Limerick Metropolitan area and Mid-West region. The Centre has ease of access to the national road network, attracting customers from a wide catchment area to a large combination of comparison and convenience shopping and leisure facilities.
Figure 12: The Crescent Shopping Centre
In accordance with the objectives of the National Planning Framework and Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy, the new Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Retail Strategy will respond to the effects of suburban retail development by re-establishing the importance of Limerick City Centre at the top of the regional retail hierarchy. In this regard, Limerick City Centre is the preferred location for new retail development in the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area and must recapture trade lost to the Crescent Shopping Centre and other out of centre shopping facilities. Pending the completion of the new Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Retail Strategy, no additional retail floor space will be permitted at the Crescent. However, there is significant scope to provide for an improved civic amenity at the Crescent Shopping Centre including:
- Provision of a civic square within the shopping centre site appropriately located to take advantage of existing and proposed public transport links and community uses;
- Pedestrian connections between the various uses within the Shopping Centre and the wider Dooradoyle area. The Draft Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy includes an objective for the enhancement of the pedestrian and cycle network on St. Nessan’s Road connecting UHL, Dooradoyle, Ballinacurra and the Crescent Shopping Centre;
- Public transport connections via the proposed BusConnects networks in accordance with the Draft Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy;
- Potential for traffic calming and pedestrian priority on the access roads to the shopping centre;
- Hard and soft landscaping and street furniture.
6.8 Local Centres
There are a number of Local Centres (Neighbourhood Centres) throughout the Southern Environs providing top-up and day-to-day shopping and service functions, which play an important role in serving the needs of those without access to a car, particularly the elderly. However, such centres should not extend beyond their local function or undermine the role of the City Centre.
The Local Authority will support and facilitate expansion of existing Local Centres where significant additional population growth is planned, or where a demonstrable gap in existing provision is identified.
The opportunity exists for centres to gradually diversify, with a more balanced mix of residential uses and employment spaces alongside the retail and leisure facilities. Such diversification will respect the priority of the City Centre in the Retail Hierarchy while allowing improved integration with the surrounding land uses.
Given the projected population growth in Mungret and the brownfield and underutilised nature of the landmark Mungret College buildings, there is potential for the provision of a Local Centre development comprising a mix of residential, office, education, cultural, arts, civic, community and retail development. In addition, given the availability of undeveloped lands at the existing Local Centre on the Dooradoyle Road, there is also potential for the consolidation of development at this location, comprising residential, office and retail development.
All retail development will be subject to compliance with the existing Joint Retail Strategy and its proposed replacement, the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Retail Strategy, when completed.
Retail: Strategic Policy:
To support the sustainable long-term growth of the Southern Environs, in accordance with the Core and Retail Strategies of the Limerick County Development Plan 2010 – 2016 (as extended), and any replacement thereof, including the existing Joint Retail Strategy and its proposed replacement, the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Retail Strategy, when completed.
Objectives: It is an Objective of the Council to:
R O1: Support and enhance the role of Limerick City Centre as the primary retail centre in the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area and Mid-West Region in accordance with the objectives of the National Planning Framework and Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Southern Region.
R O2: Ensure proposals which would undermine the vitality and viability of Limerick City Centre will not be permitted. The sequential approach to retail development set out in the “Retail Planning – Guidelines for Planning Authorities, 2012” will be strictly enforced, in the interests ofsupporting the City Centre at the top of the retail hierarchy. Any retail development in the District or Local Centres or Retail Warehousing zone shall comply with the existing Joint Retail Strategy and its proposed replacement, the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Retail Strategy when completed.
R O3: Protect and enhance the mix of services and facilities in existing District and Local Centres, which provide for the day-to-day needs of local communities, subject to compliance with the existing Joint Retail Strategy and its proposed replacement, the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Retail Strategy, when completed.
R O4: a) Ensure the role of Local Centres is not allowed to expand to encompass a materially broader range of comparison goods than currently exists in such areas, as this could lead to further competition with the City Centre;
b) In order to enable the sustainable development of the substantial greenfield area of Mungret, support and facilitate residential, office, education, tourism, cultural, arts, civic, community uses and retail development at the Mungret College Local Centre. Retail development intended to serve the needs of new/existing neighbourhoods and residential areas will be considered, subject to compliance with the existing Joint Retail Strategy and its proposed replacement, the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Retail Strategy, when completed;
c) The significant opportunities associated with the undeveloped nature of a large area of the Dooradoyle Road Local Centre is recognised. The site is therefore identified as having capacity to support and facilitate office and residential development. Retail development intended to serve the needs of new/ existing neighbourhoods and residential areas will be considered, subject to compliance with the existing Joint Retail Strategy and its proposed replacement, the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Retail Strategy, when completed.
R O5: Prohibit the proliferation of uses in the centres which would detract from the amenities of the area or the vitality and viability of the area such as fast food outlets, amusement arcades, off-licences, bookmakers and other non-retail uses.
R O6: Encourage the upgrade and refurbishment of existing retail units and the maintenance of original shopfronts, or the reinstatement of traditional shopfronts where poor replacements have been installed, discourage the use of external roller shutters, internally illuminated signs or inappropriate projecting signs.