2013-09-04 13:19:09 - A new strategy aimed at creating new sporting and recreational opportunities and facilities in Clare and Limerick as well as maximising the benefit from existing facilities was launched this afternoon.
The Limerick and Clare Sports and Physical Recreation Strategy – the first of its kind to be developed in the region - is the result of an extensive process undertaken by Clare County Council as lead agency, Limerick City and County Councils, and the Mid-West Regional Authority (MWRA), all of whom contributed funding to the project. The Strategy reflects key policies in the existing Recreational Strategies for Limerick and Clare and the Mid-West Regional Planning Guidelines 2010-2022. The development of the Strategy was overseen by a Steering Group which included representatives of the four Authorities as well as the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Limerick Regeneration.
The Strategy and the accompanying Strategic Environmental Assessment were prepared
for the commissioning agencies by Limerick Institute of Technology under the direction of Mr. Ciaran Lynch, Development Manager of the Institute.
The Mayors of Limerick and Clare, Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council and the Cathaoirleach of the Mid West Regional Authority today gathered at Áras Contae an Chláir in Ennis to officially launch the Strategy.
The Strategy incorporates an analysis of current and future needs and activities and identifies as key objectives the need to maximise the use of scarce resources and to promote collaboration between different types of providers, the need to address access issues for all citizens in the area including those groups who are under-represented in sport and physical recreation as well as the need to provide for the many visitors who come to use the area’s facilities. It is hoped that the Strategy will be used to guide the decisions of those making Development Plans, those developing proposals for new facilities and those making decisions regarding funding for new and upgraded developments.
Welcoming the Strategy, Mayor of Clare Cllr. Joe Arkins said the Strategy represented the first time that local authorities in Limerick and Clare have come together to formulate a strategic approach to sports and physical recreational facility development and use throughout both counties.
He continued: “By working closely with public and publicly funded bodies, voluntary sporting organisations, community organisations, the education sector and private facility providers, the local authorities and the MWRA will seek to ensure that citizens of both counties, irrespective of their geographical location, are considered and catered for under the aims and objectives of the Strategy. Access for all to amenity and sports infrastructure underpins this Strategy and its success will be judged in years to come on whether it achieves this.”
The launch of the Strategy has also been welcomed by Mayor of Limerick Cllr. Kathleen Leddin and Cllr. John Sheahan, Cathaoirleach Limerick County Council who said the partnership approach adopted by the key providers, stakeholders and local agencies in developing the Strategy will contribute to the blueprint’s long term objectives being achieved.
According to Mayor Leddin: “One of the primary objectives of the strategy is to improve access to recreation and sports activities through the promotion and development of new and existing multi-purpose community facilities. Great progress has already been made in communities throughout Clare and Limerick in developing playgrounds, sports facilities, and amenity walks and trails. However, with the support of the local authorities and through promoting a collaborative strategic approach to identifying new opportunities, I am confident that this Strategy will greatly contribute to a further widening of the choice of amenities, facilities and activities on offer to those who visit and live in the Region.”
Cllr. Sheahan commented: “I am encouraged by the scale and ambition of this plan which removes county boundaries and acknowledges that people are travelling regardless some distances to avail of sports and recreational activities which could be provided in closer proximity to their place of residence. The theme of creating new amenity spaces and recreational opportunities is critical to sustaining a quality of life for the residents of both counties. I particularly welcome the fact that the plan seeks to identify any gaps or excess in the provision of larger-scale facilities, gaps in provision for those with disabilities who wish to participate in sports and active recreation, and opportunities for the provision of facilities that address a new sporting or active recreation area.”
Cllr Oliver Garry, Cathaoirleach of the MWRA said a process is already underway involving local authorities identifying potential amenity and recreational spaces as part of their existing City and County Development Plans.
He added: “The ultimate objective of this Strategy is to identify and rectify gaps in the provision of recreational and amenity spaces within the Limerick/Clare area. This applies to amenity spaces, sporting facilities and the ongoing provision of built environments such as community halls. Collaborative implementation structures have yet to be put in place but it is intended that the recommendations set out in the plan will in the meantime, guide city and county development plans and existing recreational strategies in both Limerick and Clare.”
Among the key recommendations of the plan is that larger-scale sports and physical recreation stadia and facilities be located within the areas of Limerick Metropolitan Area, Shannon and Ennis in order to maximise the accessibility of larger populations, the viability of the facilities and the potential use of public transport for providing access to these facilities.
Under the Strategy, key sub-regional locations will also be identified for the provision of all-weather sports facilities to accommodate a wide range of sports and physical recreation activities such that no person is significantly more than 20 kilometers from such a facility. While these locations are still to be finalised, one possible model would include Kilrush, Killaloe/Ballina, Lisdoonvarna, Lahinch, Ennistymon, Tulla, Scarriff, Newcastle West, Kilmallock and Rathkeale as well as Limerick, Ennis and Shannon.
The Strategy also incorporates the following Strategic Policies –
- Continued support for community-based developments where these provide access for all members of the community
- The development of new cycle routes including possible use of abandoned routes such as the Abbeyfeale railway line and the West Clare railway line for the provision of new facilities, the continued development of the Ballyhoura mountain bike trail system and other similar trails.
- Since the area is already well served, new stadia for team games will generally not be permitted within the area other than the provision within Limerick Metropolitan Area of one medium-sized stadium not exceeding a capacity of 7,500 with a primary focus on the accommodation of League of Ireland soccer matches; or the provision of a new stadium at an appropriate location where it replaces an existing stadium.
- The development of new Water-based activities on the Shannon, the Shannon Estuary, the Fergus and the Fergus Estuary including sailing, marine sailing, canoeing and kayaking, rowing, surfing, wind-surfing, and fishing.
- The enhancement of the Lee’s Road Regional Sports Facility in Ennis and the provision of a substantial indoor sports facility in the town of Ennis that will be managed as part of the overall Lee’s Road facility.
- The development of new walking trails both urban (Slí na Slainte) and rural and associated amenities such as sculpture trails or nature walks, linking sports and recreation provision with the objectives of the Smarter Travel agenda.
- The development of children’s playgrounds and adult outdoor gyms particularly in areas where the level of provision is less than the national average.
- The use of collaborative mechanisms for the establishment of new sports clubs at key locations to facilitate the taking up of a range of individual non-invasive sports by all age groups.
- Promoting integration of the use of facilities so that, for example, where public access to a particular type of facility is not available but a private facility is available in the area, to seek to make arrangements with the private facility owner for the provision of public access. This could apply, for example, to gyms and swimming pools.
The Limerick and Clare Sports and Physical Recreation Strategy may be viewed on www.clarecoco.ie, www.limerickcity.ie and www.lcc.ie