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  • Northside West

Calls to develop old shopping centre land

Thursday, 26th September, 2019 8:00am
Calls to develop old shopping centre land

The old Garda Station at the Shopping Centre.

Calls to develop old shopping centre land

The old Garda Station at the Shopping Centre.

LOCAL politicians are calling on Dublin City Council to ensure any new development on the former Ballymun Shopping Centre site benefits the community.

Work has begun on demolishing the centre that was once a shopping Mecca for the Northside. Years of neglect and decay took its toll on what was once a vibrant town centre and its demise was completed when Tesco withdrew as anchor tenant five years ago.

The creation of a vibrant new town centre that would be on the Metro line was one of the key aims of the Ballymun Regeneration Project back in 1998.

In 2003 Treasury Holdings was granted permission to build a 170,000 sq mt mixed-use town centre scheme that would have revamped the existing shopping centre and built new units on an additional eight acres.

The project was to have been built over a 10-year period but three years later work still hadn’t begun. Initial planning objections were eventually resolved but a new row over the value of the land emerged.

That dispute was eventually settled and plans for the new Spring Cross Shopping Centre were announced in 2009 by property investment firm Real Estate Opportunities (REO), whose biggest shareholder was Treasury Holdings.

At the time the new €800 million centre was the largest mixed-use town centre that permission had ever been granted for in Ireland.

The plan included 360 apartments, 60,000 sq mt of retail units, 35,000 sq mt of offices and 11,000 sq mt for other uses including substantial leisure and civic amenities with cinemas, bowling alleys, a public library and restaurants.

However, a year later it was reported that REO owed €2 billion in loans to banks and had asked NAMA to provide it with working capital to fund its operations.

In 2012 REO eventually ceased trading, without even enough money to appoint a liquidator and NAMA took over the loans relating to Ballymun Shopping Centre.

Attempts to revitalise the centre over the years failed and eventually it was accepted that it would have to be demolished.

Speaking in the Dáil last week, Dublin North West TD, Dessie Ellis (SF) said the decaying shopping centre had become a stark reminder of how it was the biggest failure of the costly Ballymun Regeneration Project.

“Dublin City Council who are now the major stakeholder has at last begun the process of demolishing the 50 year old shopping centre and we are now in a position, if it is handled correctly, to revitalise the centre of Ballymun and make it once more the heartbeat of the community,” he said.

“The new development could once again become a central hub linking the communities of Ballymun.

“We in Sinn Féin will not support any development on this site that does not have at its core the idea and philosophy that this site is crucial to making this area once again the heart of the community of Ballymun.

“Dublin city council should deliver on the promises and aspirations of the Regeneration Project and central to that is making this site once more the centre of a vibrant and growing community.”

Dublin City Councillor Noeleen Reilly (IND) said demolition of the centre was bittersweet.

“This is definitely something that needs to happen but it is certainly bittersweet for us all,” she said.

“We were made a lot of commitments during the regeneration including a state of the art shopping centre.

"What happens now is really important for Ballymun.

“The site is the jewel in the crown of Ballymun. There needs to be a marketing plan and investors sought for what has huge potential for our community.

“We need additional retail facilities in the area and this has to be a top priority."

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