Most Georgian properties in use but condition varies
Limerick 2030 plan envisages ‘comprehensive refurbishment’
A Georgian building on Catherine Street, Limerick. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22
To say that Limerick’s Georgian heritage has been abused and neglected would be an understatement. Not only have so many of Newtown Pery’s houses been turned into offices, but buildings were then defaced with PVC windows, signs and other accoutrements.
Yet the heritage value of the city’s Georgian quarter is well recognised by the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, which lists more than 500 buildings as being worthy of protection, and the Limerick 2030 plan envisages “comprehensive refurbishment”.
“The aspiration will be to introduce owner-occupation housing into the area. This would be a pre-requisite. Whole blocks should take on a residential focus, whilst other blocks would be more commercial in character; this will require a business consolidation programme.”
According to the plan’s auth- ors, “the vast majority of Geor- gian properties in this area are in use, but their condition varies considerably”. Later in the same paragraph, however, they say: “The overall condition of the Georgian properties is extremely poor.”
Anyone who walks around Newtown Pery can see that the condition of its buildings varies, but to say that their overall condition is “extremely poor” is simply not true and does not ap- pear to be based on any hard evi- dence such as detailed surveys.
Based on their grim reaper assessment, the consultants call for a “flexible approach” to renovating Georgian houses – “allowing creation of larger ent- rance and lobby spaces, consolidation of floors between units to create larger floor spaces, reorganisation of walls [etc]”.
They say this would be needed to “create a range of residential room spaces” (as if there wasn’t a range of such spaces in the existing houses) and the “reor- ganisation of stair cores to allow elevators to be installed”, when they could be put up at the rear.
Although the Limerick 2030 plan claims that such renovation “will retain essential character”, it is clear that this approach, if adopted, would result in the city’s Georgian houses being gutted and internal features – including their spatial configuration – destroyed.
Tom Enright, planning director for Limerick City and County Council (as it’s to be known), said “pockets” of Newtown Pery were in reasonable condition but many streets had “extremely poor” buildings, requiring “significant works” to make them habitable.
He stressed that the council recognised Georgian Limerick as “unique in Ireland outside Dublin”. Mr Enright also under- lined that the council’s pilot project for a city centre Georgian block, now being finalised by a firm of Limerick architects, “do not in any way interfere with the buildings”, but would be a “sensitive restoration” for resi- dential and commercial uses.
He said there was “wide public support” for Limerick 2030, which was seen locally as a “very good plan to address the problems of the city centre . . . for the first time in a long time”.