AN application has been made to government by University of Limerick and Clare County Council to have lands adjoining the north campus of the University designated an Economic Strategic Development Zone.
It is envisaged that the site will have a range of education, research, living, working, and recreational spaces integrated within the University campus environment and could generate up to 3,500 jobs in the construction phase.
Economic forecasts have suggested that the site could generate a gross added value of €1.795 billion annually to the Irish economy.
President of UL Professor Kerstin Mey and Chief Executive of Clare County Council Pat Dowling have formally written to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien, TD to seek the designation.
The application submitted to government to expand and designate lands on the north campus of the University as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) has been made through the UL and Clare Economic Development Agency Designated Activity Company (DAC).
The designation of lands, which are already zoned for university use, is sought in accordance with Section 166 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 (as amended).
It comes after the elected members of Clare County Council unanimously resolved to formally seek from Government the designation of the University of Limerick – Clare Campus lands as an SDZ.
“The decision to seek the designation of the lands as an SDZ is a culmination of the joint will of both our organisations to facilitate the development of Academies of Learning and Centres of Excellence on the University campus in County Clare,” said UL President Professor Kerstin Mey.
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage will consult with Limerick City and County Council, residents and other interested parties before making any decision in relation to designation.
If this designation is granted, a two-year consultation will take place with landowners and stakeholders in relation to the development of a masterplan that will be beneficial to UL, Limerick, Clare and the Mid-West region.
It is anticipated that the decision regarding the designation will be made by Government in 2022.
“Talent is key to attracting Foreign Direct Investment, and creating attractive places is key to attracting talent,” said Clare County Council Chief Executive Pat Dowling.
It is anticipated that the project would establish UL as a European Centre of Excellence in dual education, advanced research with industry and knowledge exchange. It will confer a lead status on the University as an institution of international repute in enterprise data stewarding.
The establishment of the site as an Innovation District with enterprise partnerships, immersive academies of learning and necessary amenities will provide a considerable economic, social and cultural boost to the Limerick city region.
“The development of this area with clustering of domains of knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship will in time cite Limerick on a par with the great centres of knowledge-led social and economic advantage in both Europe and the United States,” said Professor Mey.
Both UL and Clare County Council believe the designation of lands as the South Clare/UL Economic Strategic Development Zone would be a very significant step toward achieving effective regional development, enterprise and investment and would contribute significantly to the achievement of the objectives of the National Planning Framework – Project Ireland 2040 and the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Southern Region.