21st Century University Town to create 3,500 jobs

21st Century University Town to create 3,500 jobs


Clare County Council is seeking government approval for the plan – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2016

Clare County Council is seeking government approval to designate the University of Limerick (UL) campus in County Clare and the hinterland of the campus as an economic development zone with the capacity to generate 3,500 jobs.

Elected Members and the Clare County Council Economic Development SPC today backed the South Clare Economic Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) proposal, which has been targeted and zoned in successive Clare County Development Plans.

The Local Authority says the SDZ will be Europe’s first 21st Century University Town providing for a full range of living, working, amenity, social, cultural and recreational spaces integrated with a range of University facilities, including teaching, learning and research.  The SDZ also will include the redevelopment and integration of the Errinagh canal, thereby providing the final inland waterway link between Lough Erne in County Fermanagh and Limerick City as well as the Shannon Estuary.


University of Limerick President, Dr Des Fitzgerald, said: “University of Limerick is delighted to support Clare County Council’s application to Government for the establishment of this Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) adjacent to the north campus of the university. UL works closely with both Clare County Council and Limerick City and County Council to fulfil its strategic development responsibilities in the Mid West. This designation would position UL as the first university to participate in an economic SDZ, complementing our longstanding commitment to the economic development of our region.”

“A strategic development of this scale, in a position so close to and including the university, would enhance our world-class educational and research proposition, would supplement our ongoing relationships with enterprise, industry and community, and would further establish UL as a hub for innovation.

“The announcement of the SDZ plan by Clare County Council is another milestone in the story of UL’s transformative impact on the economy of the Mid West and we look forward to the implementation of this over the coming years,” added Dr Fitzgerald.

Liam Conneally, Director of Economic Development, said: “Under this SDZ designation the site has the capacity to become a game changer both regionally and nationally. Orderly, planned development as envisaged in the legislation enabling designation as a Strategic Development Zone will see the site generate 3,500 jobs in addition to the employment generated in construction and spin-off. Investment in both foreign and indigenous industry will partner with the University in expansion, placement, research and careers.”

“The impact on Shannon Airport will be significant as the site’s industrial population focuses on international partnerships with the United States, Europe and the East. From a European perspective this is a project of scale. From a national perspective this is an exemplar project enabling an early start to the balanced regional development strategy and creating an early win for the vision set out for the Limerick Metropolitan Area as outlined in the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan,” said Mr. Conneally.

Clare County Council will submit a formal application to Government for the designation of the South Clare Economic Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) in the coming weeks. If the application is successful, a detailed masterplan for the area will be developed by the Local Authority, in conjunction with UL, local landowners and other stakeholders.