The Opera Centre in Limerick

State-owned Anglo Irish Bank has dropped plans to demolish several Georgian buildings at the €350m Opera Centre retail development in Limerick. Anglo owns half of the development, with the remainder owned by Jerry O'Reilly, David Courtney and Terry Sweeney.

Planning permission was granted for an initial project but Regeneration Developments, the vehicle being used for the scheme, subsequently applied for a larger scheme that would have had two retail anchor units, one of which is expected to be Marks & Spencer, and 38 other shops.

"Bigger and better" was Courtney's description of the plans, which are now before An Bord Pleanála, and which included a proposal to demolish 12 Georgian buildings.

However, further information submitted to An Bord Pleanála by the company in recent days means that most of the buildings scheduled for demolition will have at least their façades retained.

Anglo acquired its stake in the venture in 2007 and planned to syndicate it to private clients but failed to do so.

The Opera Centre will be the largest shopping centre in the midwest. It takes its name from opera singer Catherine Hayes, who was born at 4 Patrick Street, which forms part of the development. Her birthplace will be separate from the mall and will be refurbished as a museum or civic amenity.