LIMERICK'S regeneration plans have "stalled" and the government's failure to formally approve the blueprint at cabinet level is of serious concern, according to Limerick Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan.
Developing the master plan for Limerick's regeneration cost €2m and the proposed construction of private housing will now not take place in the short term, Brendan Kenny, chief executive of Limerick's Regeneration Agency, told the Sunday Tribune.
"It has stalled. The environment minister John Gormley has yet to bring the master plan to the cabinet for formal approval. Unless that's done, the prospect of getting the funding they require next year is dim," O'Sullivan said. "There is a high level of scepticism among the communities because practically nothing that's been promised has happened. People had their hopes built up, they felt things were going to happen. Now there's a sense that government was never serious about it. If people are let down, it will be far worse than if regeneration was never proposed."
Gormley has promised that the plan, developed in 2007, will be formally presented to government "within weeks".
Kenny said he was hopeful government would allocate sufficient funding to proceed with its far-reaching plans and agreed that practically no construction has yet taken place. He added that the 10-year, €3bn plan could now take 15 years to complete. He also said that plans to build private housing will not proceed as planned in the short term because of the economic downturn.
"We have to stay confident. It will take longer than anticipated. We received €26m from government last year. Hopefully, we'll get at least that for 2010," he said.
Local sources in Limerick said that people living in the four areas due to be restored are completely disillusioned by the lack of progress.
Limerick's regeneration agencies were set up in 2007 but little construction has taken place. It was anticipated that some construction work on the new housing developments would begin this year. But it is now likely that new houses will only come on stream by 2011, should sufficient capital be allocated by government.
The first project expected is two housing developments for elderly people.
"We had land earmarked for private housing that may have to lay idle for a while. Regeneration is not just about housing.
"It's also about economic and social changes and there is a lot of work on-going in relation to this. We would not be here if we did not think the government was committed to regeneration. But we need to give a signal to people that things are developing.
"It is quite understandable that some people are getting frustrated. People want to see houses being developed," Kenny added.