Chapter 4 - Town Centre First Approach

Open2 Sep, 2023, 12:00am - 16 Oct, 2023, 5:00pm

4.1 Introduction

Patrickswell provides an important administrative, social, community and recreational function for its inhabitants and surrounding hinterland. It has a significant residential population, provides some employment opportunities and local transport services with connections to Limerick City and Cork. The Government’s Town Centre First Policy seeks to create vibrant communities in urban settlements, including villages, such as Patrickswell, to encourage families to live in the heart of towns and villages. The policy outlines the need for towns and villages to be climate resilient, well-connected and accessible locations, where digital technology is integrated into daily commercial and social life and where the urban built heritage is sustainably managed and conserved. It is a vision of this Draft Plan to support the village centre as a place to live, work, do business and visit and in doing so enable Patrickswell to remain a resilient village, promoting the re-development of underutilised sites, enhancing its service base, enabling residential development and protecting its urban built heritage. 

Policy TCF P1 - Town Centre First: It is policy of the Council to:

(a) Support the implementation of the Town Centre First Policy in Patrickswell in creating a vibrant and attractive village centre to live, work and visit while also functioning as the service, social, cultural and recreational hub for the local community, through the enhancement of the village’s rich architectural heritage and development of public realm.

(b) Capitalise on the infrastructural investments in the village that support the Town Centre First programme within the lifetime of this Plan. All development shall demonstrate climate resilience measure to climate proof critical infrastructure.

(c) Promote high quality place-making and public realm, in accordance with the Limerick Development Plan 2022-2028, including the Development Management Standards, any replacement thereof and any relevant Section 28 Guidance.

(d) Ensure development proposals are designed in such a manner as to enhance the village centre and should give due consideration to: Site context, surrounding built heritage, climate resilience, connectivity/permeability, public realm improvements, adaptability, privacy, amenity and parking provision.

4.2 Town Centre First and the ‘10 Minute’ Town Concept

The Town Centre First Policy is derived from the concept of developing a 10-minute city/town/village, whereby a sustainable compact settlement such as Patrickswell, seeks to have all community facilities and services accessible within a 10-minute walk or cycle from homes, or are accessible by public transport services connecting people to larger scaled settlements.  There is clear scope in Patrickswell to promote greater connections and linkages through appropriately designed infrastructure and the design stage of any future development. Recent years have shown a shift in attitude towards a desire for proximity of local services and amenities. Creating enhanced walking and cycling facilities enables residents to shift to more sustainable transport modes and in doing so, reducing the carbon footprint of the settlement.

The decline of villages needs to be tackled by focusing on policies, such as the Town Centre First approach, which seeks to future proof our local towns/villages by creating attractive public realm, while also providing an environment where people want to live, can shop and meet their needs locally.  A Phase 2 Village Renewal Scheme is currently underway which, includes the upgrade of the public realm on Main Street. Works are due to be completed before the end of 2023 and will include the remodelling of the traffic layout to improve traffic management.


Figure 4.1: Patrickswell 10-minute Walking Network

The Plan promotes the Town Centre First approach with a focus on creating a thriving village centre with a strong service and social function.  Through the re-use of buildings, infill development, re-purposing of under-utilised lands within the village centre for mixed uses including residential, retail shops or creative workspaces, the Plan seeks to consolidate the village rather than facilitating urban sprawl. In addition, the Plan supports the investment in a high quality pedestrian/cyclists friendly public realm, increased permeability and connectivity and attractive public spaces where people can gather socially. The enhancement of green spaces will be of benefit to the local community and contribute to the attraction of investment.

Policy TCF P2 - Place-making Strategic Policy: It is policy of the Council to:

Ensure that new development in the village centre and in particular the opportunity areas, comprises the highest of qualitative and design standards, complimenting the existing historical built fabric and national heritage, sustaining Patrickswell as a village in which to live, work, invest and do business.

4.3 Town Centre Health Check

Vacancy in any urban centre impacts on the overall vitality and attractiveness of an area.  There is some vacancy of properties visible throughout the village centre on both the north and south sides of Main Street. Some of these units are highly visible due to their scale, street frontages and location on Main Street. Collectively and even individually, these vacant buildings contribute to the village’s neglected appearance.

Limerick City and County Council carried out a Health Check of Patrickswell village in November 2022 and a second Health Check survey in August 2023. In total, 394 units were surveyed, with 1.2% deemed vacant residential (5 units) and 20% vacant commercial units (6 units). Residential vacancy had decreased by four units from the survey carried out in November 2022, which included a reduction of three units within the villages’ residential estates deemed no longer vacant. There was however, increased vacancy recorded on Main Street. Commercial vacancy remained the same between both surveys. The breakdown of the units surveyed is outlined in the Health Check Map in Figure 4.2.

The Council has a proactive regime, which aims to tackle the issues of dereliction and vacancy throughout Limerick. The active land use management tools available to the Council are underpinned by the Derelict Sites Act, 1990 (as amended), Residential Zoned Land Tax and key Government policies such as Town Centre First, Our Rural Future and Housing for All. In addition, the Council is committed to working with property owners to reactivate long-term vacant homes and unused properties for sustainable re-use and promote public funding opportunities such as Croí Cónaithe. A dedicated team within the Council work on a continuous basis to reduce vacancy and dereliction, through the various tools available, including compulsory purchase orders of derelict and underutilised properties. The Dereliction, Vacancy and Re-Use Team of the Council will continue to engage with property owners to advise on remedial measures and give guidance on schemes and supports available to bringing vacant and derelict properties back into productive use.

In order to realise the consolidation of Patrickswell, development will be encouraged in a sustainable, sequential manner from the village core outwards, within the built up footprints of the village, while promoting the reuse and redevelopment of vacant and derelict sites and buildings.

Fig. 4.2 Health Check Map August 2023

This Plan will provide support for continued diversification of services within the village core to sustain the residential population. Opportunities for the reuse of these buildings will be supported in the Plan as well as the provision of new services within the village.  The Council will continue to monitor vacancy and work with the relevant stakeholders to address issues that exist and utilise the various tools available to implement urban regeneration.

Objective TCF O2 - Active Land Management: It is an objective of the Council to:

(a)   Support and facilitate the reuse and revitalisation of derelict, vacant and underutilised sites and disused buildings throughout Patrickswell for residential, economic, community and leisure purposes.

(b) Promote and facilitate the re-use of under-utilised or vacant lands/buildings in Patrickswell through the active  land  management  mechanisms  such as  the Derelict  Sites Act, 1990 (as amended), Residential Zoned Land Tax and also through key Government policies  such  as  Town  Centre  First,  Our Rural Future and Housing for All and any replacements thereof.  The Council will continue to engage with property owners to advise on remedial measures and give guidance on schemes and supports available to bringing vacant and derelict homes back into productive use.

4.4 Retail Strategy

The Draft Plan supports the objectives of the Limerick Shannon MASP in the promotion of the Metropolitan Area as a cohesive area, with the City Centre as the primary location at the heart of the Region.

The Retail Strategy for Limerick–Shannon Metropolitan Area and County Limerick 2022–2028 describes the important role that small towns, villages and local centres play in the retail hierarchy, fulfilling the everyday needs of the communities they serve. Retail development should be focused in the centres of small towns and villages, including Patrickswell and should complement the existing retail provision. They should also be located in areas of high accessibility to the areas they serve.

There are a number of vacant commercial units in Patrickswell.  As previously outlined, retail vacancy, as assessed through the Health Check Survey identified retail/commercial vacancy  of 20% (6 total units). The Council supports the sequential approach, when assessing planning applications in relation to retail development. Out-of-centre locations for retail business and services are generally not permitted in an effort to consolidate the existing retail centre and encourage the re-use of vacant units within the centre. These retail developments should also be located in areas of high accessibility to the areas they serve. The LAP anticipates that additional retail development in Patrickswell will be achieved through the redevelopment of vacant commercial units in the first instance.

Policy TCF P3 - Retail Strategic Policy: It is policy of the Council to:

Support the sustainable long-term retail growth of Patrickswell, as a Tier 5 retail settlement, in accordance with the Limerick Development Plan 2022-2028, the Retail Strategy for the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area and County Limerick.

Objective TCF O3 - Retail Development: It is the objective of the Council to:

Enhance the vitality and viability of Patrickswell as a retail service centre and to improve the quantity and quality of retail provision in the village by:

(a) Emphasise the village centre as the primary retail location.

(b) Encourage the upgrade and expansion of existing retail units and the development of new units within the village centre.

(c) Ensure that proposals with retail elements comply with the provision of the Retail Strategy for the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area and County Limerick 2022-2028, in relation to site suitability and the sequential approach and ensure proposals which would undermine the vitality and viability of Patrickswell village centre will not be permitted.

(d) Encourage proposals for commercial uses at ground floor level within the village core.

(e) Prohibit the proliferation of uses in the village centre, which would detract from the amenities, or the vitality and viability of the area such as fast food outlets, amusement arcades, off-licences, bookmakers and other non-retail uses.  Storage use will not be permitted as the primary use of ground floor units.

(f) Encourage the use of upper floors in retail premises for commercial or residential use.

(g) Enhance the physical environment of the village centre, as a location for shopping and business through measures aimed at improving conditions for pedestrians.

(h) 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, and discourage the use of external roller shutters, internally illuminated signs or inappropriate projecting signs.

4.5 Opportunity Sites

The Council has identified 4 opportunity areas that have the potential to sustain community vitality, contribute to a positive public realm experience, or have potential for adaptive re-use. The Council seeks to capitalise on the existing assets of these areas, such as natural biodiversity, amenity, location or historic built heritage. 

Objective TCF O4 - Opportunity Sites: It is an objective of the Council to:

  1. Encourage and support the appropriate and sustainable development or redevelopment where appropriate, of lands identified as opportunity sites in line with the principles set out in Table 4.1.
  2. Ensure that new development in the village centre and in particular the opportunity areas comprise the highest qualitative and design standards, complimenting the existing historical built fabric, or national heritage, sustaining Patrickswell as a village in which to live, work, invest and do business.

Figure 4.3: Opportunity Sites

Table 4.1: Opportunity Sites - Development Potential/ Principles