Cleeves Riverside Quarter masterplan for the development of the Cleeves Factory has been fixed to the walls surrounding the site. Picture: Richard Lynch/ilovelimerick
Masterplan for Cleeves Riverside Quarter Development Revealed
By I Love Limerick correspondent Rachel Petticrew
A detailed masterplan of Limerick Twenty Thirty’s development of the Cleeves Factory site on the North Circular Road has been highlighted on large placards, which have been fixed to the walls surrounding the long derelict but historic area of Limerick City. The placards can also be viewed digitally on Limerick Twenty Thirty’s website.
The vision for the site is described through several key principles, such as embracing the River Shannon and the history of the Cleeves site, creating a vibrant community quarter and enhancing biodiversity in the area.
A six-month programme began in March 2021 to come up with a blueprint for the 10-acre Cleeves Riverside Quarter site, which will see Limerick Twenty Thirty – the development company established by Limerick City and County Council – bring its €500m programme to the north side of the Shannon. The total cost of the project is estimated at €250 – €300 million and delivery will take approximately seven years.
The development of the sites original structure, the flax mill, is seen as an opportunity to kickstart the wider development of the Cleeves site. Limerick Twenty Thirty believes the flax mill has survived the past two centuries through bold vision – confidence in the value of the buildings and their ability to suit a new purpose. The company also understands the Cleeves Factory should remain as the iconic face of Limerick City.
The central factory buildings will be the most impressive area of the development, with offices, shops, a supermarket and a school planned, as well as a large community hub for the original flax mill building. A hillside town square, reminiscent of an Italian hill town will also be a community focal point, located at the rear of the site.
The development focuses significantly on biodiversity and the environment, with large green spaces dominating the site, as well as a plan to reconnect and reactivate the River Path, which runs along the sites river edge. A new riverside landmark is also on the cards.
There are constraints to developing the site, largely due to its age. Two areas of the site are protected structures, including the factory’s iconic chimney. Flood risks and surface-level changes are also an issue, due to the site’s proximity to the banks of the River Shannon.
“Cleeves will, ultimately, be a 2030 project. It’s going to take seven years to develop because of its size and, indeed, the sensitivities around the site. This is a historic site and there are even constraints beyond that which we have to manage,” acknowledged Limerick Twenty Thirty CEO David Conway.
Mr Conway said that while the southern side of the river has been the traditional ‘city centre’, Cleeves will extend the heart of Limerick across the river.
“We believe it will be a catalyst for further investment to follow so this is the start of something very significant, not just for this side of the river but for Limerick as a whole.”
Limerick Twenty Thirty will provide further updates and information on the Cleeves Riverside Quarter development over the coming months, with public consultation around the site set for early 2022.
As images of the newly revealed placards began to surface online, many Limerick locals were keen to voice their idea’s for the development.
“I would love to see St Michael’s Rowing Club and the area around it focus on sport & recreation, including public playing pitches, courts and riverside gyms,” said one Twitter user.
“I think for any development to be successful, there needs to be a residential anchor. Cleeves could and should include some high-end, open-plan apartments with views overlooking the river. Those residents provide consistent footfall for commercial units on the ground floor”, said another.
The iconic 10-acre site is divided into two sections that straddle both sides of the North Circular Road and O’Callaghan Strand. Constructed in the mid-nineteenth century, the factory’s chimney structure dominates the Limerick City skyline.
The Cleeves factory boomed with sales of condensed milk in the early 20th century, however it was Cleeves Slab Toffee that became the factories main output until its closure in 1974. Immortalised in Frank McCourt’s book Angela’s Ashes, Cleeves toffee is fondly remembered both in Limerick and across Ireland.
To view the Cleeves Riverside Quarter masterplan placards online go HERE
For more stories on Cleeves Riverside Quarter go HERE
For more information on Limerick Twenty Thirty go HERE