I am writing in response to your editorial of October 31st. The Limerick Chapter of the Irish Georgian Society would like to whole-heartedly welcome the Living Cities Initiative. We would like to see Newtown Pery with people and families living it again. The Georgian centre of Limerick has suffered years of neglect and this initiative can only be one part of an overall strategy for its recovery. The city has great potential to be attractive to people with families, with beautiful buildings, great streets, great schools, good shopping, culture and food, all right on your doorstep.
I attended the Heritage Councils Living Cities Workshop in Kilkenny last week. There are some issues with the scheme that need to be addressed, as the take up has been very poor across the country, since the initiative was launched last May. The Department of Finance needs to address the following qualification criteria:
1. The size requirement is capped at 210 m2. Limerick Georgian buildings are generally three-storey over basement and can be over 400m2 and are as a result excluded from the scheme entirely.
2. New extensions are excluded from the scheme. However the refurbishment of these properties usually require some element of new extension to house highly serviced areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.
3. Buildings, which were not originally built for residential use, are not included, for example former Mill buildings of Limerick are all excluded.
4. The 10-year requirement for an owner-occupier is overly long and a further disincentive.
5. The tax break will only be beneficial to a small number of people, with people on low incomes and retirees seeing little in the way of enticement.
If the Department of Finance is series about the scheme working, they need to adjust it accordingly.
Ailish Drake MRIAI
Chairperson Limerick Chapter of Irish Georgian Society