Fears on accessibility and parking have been expressed this week after the planning section of Limerick County Council was moved out of County Hall.

Patrick Street becomes the new home to a major new Directorate of Limerick City and County Council. The Economic Develop-ment, Property and Planning Units are merging into one Directorate of the amalgamating local authority.  The new unit opened its doors last Monday in 7/8 Patrick Street in the heart of the city centre taking over the former AIB Bank premises.

Limerick City and County Council Director of Service for Economic Develop-ment, Oliver O’Loughlin said the location of the new Directorate will provide an enhanced experience for all customers and demonstrate the Council’s commitment to the revitalisation of the city centre. “The head-quarters of the Economic Development and Planning Directorate will be based in our new premises in Patrick Street but planning services will still be available in City Hall, Merchants Quay and County Hall, Dooradoyle through the Customer Services Units,” Mr O’Loughlin stated

Fianna Fail Councillor Michael Collins is not convinced. “I am disappointed as it will not give an accessible service to the people of county Limerick,” he said. “At least in County Hall both city and county had easy access to parking. The other issue is if people need to access other departments such as roads, environment or water services as part of a planning application or query, they will have to drive to County Hall. It is a mistake and badly thought out,” he said.

The Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, Cllr John Sheahan, told the Vale Star this week: “The manager has reiterated his commitment to provide one-stop-shop services in area offices and has re- confirmed that the general public will be able to make their planning application at area office level and that there will be enhanced availability of planners at area office level by method of appointment. While one welcomes the intention of enhancing the area offices it will behove the councillors who are there at present and those elected to the new council to hold the manager to his commitment on this issue.”