Frequently Asked Questions

opendate_range26 Jul, 2019, 12:00pm - 6 Sep, 2019, 11:59pm

O'Connell Street Revitalisation - FAQs

Plans have been unveiled by Limerick City and County Council for the re-development of Limerick’s premier street – O’Connell Street. The O’Connell Street Revitalisation Project covers the area between the junctions with Denmark Street/ Arthur’s Quay and Cecil Street/ Lower Cecil Street.


This is not the first plan for O’Connell Street, what’s different about this plan as opposed to the previous one?

  1. The proposal has now been divided into two phases:
    Phase 1 focuses on the retail core of Limerick City, and comprises the section of O’Connell Street that starts at Denmark Street junction and stops at Cecil Street junction.
    Phase 2 encompasses the Georgian Core and will start at Cecil Street junction and stop at The Crescent.
  2. The plan now includes two traffic lanes along four blocks of O’Connell Street. From the junction of William Street, one lane is proposed as a dedicated bus lane, the other for private/ commercial vehicles.
  3. The traffic lanes will have a maximum speed limit of 30km/hour to facilitate and allow for shared cycling usage in the bus lane.
  4. There is a dedicated space for Public Art which will engage more directly with pedestrians.
  5. The project now includes the entrance to Arthur’s Quay Shopping Centre to reflect movement of people, and will end at the junction with Cecil Street.

Back to top

Was there consultation and have you taken public comments and opinions into account?

Significant consultation has been carried out with key stakeholders and the general public.

Limerick City and County Council has listened and taken views on board. As a result, the proposals for O’Connell Street have evolved to respond to the needs expressed, where possible, while providing the flexibility required to adapt and change with inevitable changes to movement of people and use patterns in the future.

Back to top

Can I cycle down O’Connell Street?

O’Connell Street will become primarily a pedestrian priority area under this plan. Because the proposal includes a new 30km/hour speed limit and proposed raised tables at junctions, cyclists can share the dedicated southbound bus lane (in the direction of The Crescent). As this plan has flexibility in use in-built, there is potential for the provision of cycle lanes in the future following completion of the Limerick and Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS).

Back to top

Why is only a section of O’Connell Street being re-developed and not the whole street?

We have listened to the views made, and from this, a decision was made to phase the O’Connell Street Revitalisation Project. O’Connell Street is a long street and has many variations along it in relation to use, architecture, physical features, footpath widths and conservation concerns. This proposal has been divided into two phases in order to deal with the two primary variations identified:

  • Phase 1: the retail core of Limerick City, comprises the section of O’Connell Street that starts at Denmark Street junction and stops at Cecil Street junction
  • Phase 2: the Georgian Core, starts at Cecil Street junction and ends at The Crescent

These areas are very different to each other in relation to features and opportunities, physical constraints, and as such, designing appropriately within the existing streetscape will require specific considerations/ plans that correspond to the varying contexts.

Back to top

How much is it going to cost?

This is Phase 1 of the O’Connell Street project. The funding that has been committed to Phase 1 is €9 million, but we will not know the exact cost of the project until tender prices from interested contractors have been received.

Back to top

When will the project start?

If the plan gets Part VIII approval in September 2019, it is anticipated that Phase 1 of the O’Connell Street Revitalisation project will commence on site in early 2020.

Back to top

When will the project finish?

It is projected that Phase 1 of the O’Connell Street project will take approximately 18 months on site to complete. This timeline is subject to the appointed contractor’s programme.

Back to top

The €4.1m grant we received from the EU for the route, is that still available?

This funding support is still available, but must be spent by 2021 at the latest. The time is right for Limerick to see this project progress.

Back to top

What will the speed limit on the road be?

The proposal includes a 30km/h maximum speed limit to facilitate pedestrian priority movement.

Back to top

How can we be sure that this is the last iteration of it? Will there be another plan?

This is the plan that Limerick City and County Council will be presenting to the local councillors seeking their approval under Part VIII. The local councillors have the powers to recommend that this plan goes through with or without modifications. Therefore, the plan as presented may be subject to some change pending the local councillors’ decision at the Council meeting in September 2019.

Back to top

How is this going to future proof Limerick?

Limerick City is undergoing a transformation.

The completion of Gardens International, the progress of the Opera Centre, the Rugby Experience building, the Arthur’s Quay retail development, the UL City Centre Campus and the Georgian Neighbourhood Limerick project will see larger numbers of people living and working in Limerick City Centre.

With the projected population growth for Limerick City of 50,000 people under the Project 2040 National Planning Framework and the promotion of the City Centre as a viable place to live, O’Connell Street will be a principal connector between all of these developments and must reflect and underpin anticipated population growth and significantly increased footfall.

While O’Connell Street is a critical thoroughfare for Limerick City at present, this project seeks to redress this through place-making along O’Connell Street and its immediate vicinity. The O'Connell Street Revitalisation project will create a backdrop to more positive engagement with the city through much-reduced traffic volumes, greater cyclist and bus accessibility, wider and improved footpaths, reduction in urban clutter, increased landscaping and trees, and will generally contribute to a more pleasant environment for those who currently live and work in the city centre, and for the anticipated increase in working and residential populations of Limerick.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has commenced the LSMATS for Limerick. Once completed this strategy will set out the way people will move around, through and into and out of Limerick City. Because the population of the Metropolitan Area will grow by 50%, sustainable modes of transport must be adopted by the greater population, with the possibility of the introduction of a rapid bus system following the completion of the LSMATS. Single-user car transport with this population will clog up existing streets and roads, and will add greatly to carbon emissions.

The O’Connell Street project proposal has evolved, and is designed to continue to evolve in response to whatever recommendations the Transport Strategy puts forward.

Back to top

Is there a 3D model available?

3D images are available to view at mypoint.limerick.ie, which will illustrate some of the vision of the completed Phase 1 O’Connell Street.

Back to top

What’s the flexible space for?

A flexible space is an area that can easily be adapted for different functions e.g. bollards can be risen to create a fully pedestrianised area between William Street and Roches Street. The flexible space enhances the destination identity of O’Connell Street. It will be a single-surface space with no changes in level that gives priority to pedestrians, something that is not in place at present as cars dominate O’Connell Street. However, the flexible space can also be fully closed off to traffic for civic events such as the turning on of the Christmas Lights, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, International Band Championships, Street Feasts, welcoming home Liam MacCarthy! It will provide possibilities for increased use if closed regularly such as monthly markets, street parties, arts/ festival events.

Back to top

Is there a space for public gatherings?

Yes. There are ‘break out areas’ along the street where trees and street furniture are set back to create spaces in front of key strategic ‘special’ buildings such as the area in front of the Augustinian Church, the urban garden in front of Penneys, the area in front of the Rugby Experience building. Each of these break out spaces is like a room along the length of O’Connell Street, that focuses on a key building and stretches across O’Connell Street.

Back to top

What will the water feature be like opposite the Augustinian Church?

The water spouts will be like the Mirror of Water feature in Nantes, France. This feature will emit small timed quantities of water into a very shallow pool that children (or adults) can splash in with their wellies, or in sandals during the summer. The water feature in Nantes does not emit water in winter due to freezing temperatures which would create a public hazard. We would take a similar approach to reflect our own climate.

Back to top

Is a space for public art included?

Limerick City and County Council is holding a public art competition, subject to the Part VIII getting approval in September, and it is intended that the winning entry will be constructed and installed at the junction of Thomas Street and O’Connell Street.

We will be looking for a signature piece to showcase Limerick’s premier street. The footpath extends deeper into O’Connell Street to both control traffic, increase space for pedestrians and to facilitate public engagement with the art.

Back to top

Is the street furniture and landscaping design finalised?

The proposal includes the addition of trees, landscaping and fixed furniture in the layout. While we would like to retain the number of trees proposed, if not expand on it during the next stage of design, we are keen to avoid being over-prescriptive in the use of the street by including too much street furniture and landscaping. However, we are open to taking all views on this on board during the public consultation process for integration into the detailed design.

Please note that due to the Georgian vaults underneath O’Connell Street, it may not be possible to have trees planted directly into the ground, however the provision of trees and other plants by means of raised planters will be looked at closely.

Back to top

Is there any parking?

Thirty-eight car parking spaces are being removed to provide more dedicated space for pedestrians. Private car parking spaces, taxi ranks and disability parking spaces will be relocated to adjacent side streets. Notwithstanding these improvement works, there will still be approximately 1,000 on street parking spaces and 5,300 off street car parking spaces in the surrounding streets.

Back to top

Are there any loading bays?

No. While deliveries to larger retailers already use back and side streets, loading bays will be relocated to adjacent streets to serve the general retail businesses on O’Connell Street and its environs. This is to promote O’Connell Street as a pedestrian priority area, reduce visual clutter and generally improve the public realm.

Back to top

Why is this a better O’Connell Street than what we have already?

The O'Connell Street Revitalisation project will create a backdrop to more positive engagement with the city through much-reduced traffic volumes, greater cyclist and bus accessibility, wider and improved footpaths, reduction in urban clutter, increased landscaping, street furniture and trees, and will generally contribute to a more pleasant environment for those who currently live and work in the city centre, and for the anticipated increase in working and residential populations of Limerick.

The aim of this project is to breathe new life into O’Connell Street for pedestrians and residents, to redefine its role as a destination within Limerick City and the greater Mid-West region, to support more sustainable modes of transport, and to provide a stronger and more visually appealing urban connector within the city centre.

Back to top

Are we not making it harder for people to go into the city centre by curtailing cars on our main street?

This project promotes sustainable modes of movement such as walking, cycling and public transport. Notwithstanding these improvement works there will still be approximately 1,000 on street parking spaces and 5,300 off street car parking spaces in the surrounding streets to facilitate members of the public using their private cars to access the City Centre.

With a dedicated bus lane for three blocks in Phase 1, it will be easier to access public transport and faster than driving. This measure will also improve efficiency, reliability, visibility and accessibility. Removal of on-street car parking will improve bus access to serve at bus stops.

The scheme has been designed with the aim of improving the safety of all road users on O'Connell Street and the connecting side streets. Narrowing of the carriageway, introducing raised tables at junctions, and providing a shared surface across the street for three and a half of the four blocks will create traffic calming measures to reduce vehicular speeds. The creation of plazas and large areas of public realm will emphasise to motorists on the street that O'Connell Street is a place as well as a link for through movement, and increase visibility of pedestrians and vulnerable road users.

The removal of kerbside activities such as loading and parking will also improve visibility between pedestrians and drivers, and reduce risks for cyclists travelling along the street and pedestrians crossing the street from between parked vehicles. The narrowed carriageway and raised tables at junctions will also improve ease of pedestrian crossing of O'Connell Street and the side streets at each junction.

Furthermore, this approach will contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions in the city and sets a precedent in terms of introduction of public transport priority to encourage further reduction of car usage.

Back to top

Why isn’t it all pedestrianised?

At the earlier stages of the project, a number of options were pursued and studied. A modelling exercise was carried out on these options and the results showed the current proposal will have the least negative impact on current traffic volumes across the city. Limerick’s current car infrastructure is not ready to accept significant additional car traffic diverted from O’Connell Street. To eliminate cars completely from O’Connell Street would require further analysis of the entire mobility network and potentially significant work to be carried out on streets and roads across the city.

In the meantime, O’Connell Street is a priority project that badly needs investment to address current and future needs.  

Back to top

Is it expected that the LSMATS will recommend that Limerick will implement a rapid bus transport system in the future?

The proposal retains the flexibility to accommodate the introduction of a dedicated bus corridor in the future. This project deals with both current traffic conditions and any future changes with pedestrian priority central to the scheme.

Back to top

Won’t there be crazy traffic at either end of O’Connell St with two lanes going into one?

At the earlier stages of the project, a number of options were pursued and studied. A traffic modelling exercise was carried out on these options and the results showed the current proposal will have the least negative impact on current traffic volumes and road infrastructure across the city.

This project promotes sustainable modes of movement such as walking, cycling and public transport. With a dedicated bus lane for three blocks in Phase 1, it will be easier to access public transport and will be faster than driving. This measure will also improve efficiency, reliability, visibility and accessibility. Removal of on-street car parking will improve bus access to serve at bus stops.

Cars on O’Connell Street approaching the junction with William Street have a choice to turn left onto William Street or proceed straight ahead up O’Connell Street. While this may increase traffic on William Street, the primary objective of this project is to promote O’Connell Street as a destination, not a thoroughfare.  

Back to top

Is this good international practice to do this on our main street?

Improved public realm with pedestrian priority spaces, strengthened sustainable transport, and efficient and reliable public transport in cities are all recognised as being very good for cities. The primary objective of this project is to rebalance O’Connell Street as a public space for all citizens. Public spaces influence the daily interactions that take place at community level, and this has been successfully taken on by cities abroad such as Copenhagen, Newcastle, Bristol and Lisbon. What these cities have in common is a convivial and more walkable public realm which has, in turn, resulted in more liveable cities. 

Back to top

Did you consider putting a canopy over O’Connell Street?

A canopy has been considered. However, the cost involved in erecting a canopy would divert significant funding from the project. The proposal will focus on providing a high-quality street with larger footpaths, an increase in trees and street furniture, new surfaces, reduced visual clutter and slower traffic speed limits. The Council is proposing a high profile public art competition for the Thomas Street/O’Connell street space.

Back to top

Is it flexible? Can we change it in the future?

This proposal has the flexibility to change in the future. The flexible movement band or passage through the pedestrian priority area provides space for two transport lanes. These lanes are changeable and will reflect the recommendations that emerge from the LSMATS. The flexible movement band can be used as:

  • Two bus lanes
  • One bus lane and two cycle lanes
  • One bus lane and one car lane
  • Full pedestrianisation

Back to top

What is the Public Art?

Limerick City and County Council is committed to establishing O’Connell Street as a destination, and we will be launching a high-profile Public Art competition in August.

A commission fund of €500,000 has been committed. The winning entry will be constructed and installed at the bottom of Thomas Street as part of the completed O’Connell Street and will form part of an overall vision of an ambitious urban centre to reflect the current transformation of Limerick City and the region.

Back to top

What does a Part VIII Planning process mean and what happens next?

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016, amended Section 179 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, relates to the arrangements for the approval by local authorities of their own development proposals.

Part VIII (8) is approved, rejected or approved with conditions by local councillors as a reserved function. Local Authorities cannot grant themselves Planning Permission.

In conjunction with Part VIII Submission, application is formally advertised via Newspaper Notice and Site Notices are erected on site. This is when the Public Display period commences. This is a period of four weeks.

Public observations / public submissions are accepted for a period of two weeks from date of completion of the Public Display period.

The application is assessed along with responses to public submissions and the Planner’s recommendation is made. The Chief Executive’s Report is then issued to the local councillors. This must be issued within a maximum of eight weeks from completion of Public Observations / Public Submissions.

The Local Councillors will consider the application at the Metropolitan District Meeting in September.

Back to top

Who is leading this project?

Design and Delivery in Limerick City and County Council is leading this project, in conjunction with its strategic partner, the Physical Development Directorate in Limerick City and County Council.

Back to top

Where can I get more information?

You can look at the application drawings, reports and artist impressions online click here. (You will need to register.)


You can also view the drawings at:

Planning Department
Limerick City and County Council
Dooradoyle
Limerick V94 WV78

or

Customer Services
Limerick City and County Council
Merchant’s Quay
Limerick V94 EH90

You can also make a submission or observation online at mypoint.limerick.ie or write directly to:

Planning Department
Limerick City and County Council
Dooradoyle
Limerick V94 WV78

Submissions and observations will be accepted until Friday 6th September 2019. Written submissions will be accepted until 4pm on the 6th September.

Back to top