County council seeking expert advice on rejuvenating Dun Laoghaire

by Gary Ibbotson
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Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has announced that it is seeking consultants to advise on a major regeneration strategy of Dun Laoghaire town and harbour.

The harbour was acquired by the local authority from Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company last year after a €30 million cruise ship berth was proposed in 2015. The berth was planned to allow ships up to 250m in length to dock.

However, three months ago the council withdrew its planning application for the facility after it was revealed that the funds needed for the plan were not currently available. Many councillors also raised concerns regarding the environmental impact of the project.

In addition to the shelving of the cruise berth scheme, the county council has yet to find a suitable tenant for the old Stena Line terminal which has been unused since 2015.

The Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead in Wales ferry was operational since 1835 but due to a declining demand for the service, Stena Line ceased operations.

The council says that it is offering a €100,000 contract to the appropriate suitor who assess the current marine and tourism uses of the harbour and its economic position and advises on its future uses and income generating potential.

In a separate contract, also worth €100,000, the council is seeking a consultant to develop and revitalise the town centre, improve employment opportunities and find solutions to the declining commercial and retail health of the town.

In a statement, the council said that recent development of the town has been largely focused on increasing residential development, to the detriment of employment and commercial growth.

“Over the past 10 years [the council] has noted an increase in applications to change the use of properties from commercial to residential in the town. Other parts of the county have experienced growth in new office floor space while the town has not,” it said.

“The Planning Authority acknowledge constraints regarding available sites and are concerned that without growing the employment base the town may lose the mix of uses that creates economic vibrancy and activity.”

Tenders for both contracts are due to by September 17.

Local Green Party councillor Ossian Smyth told Dublin Gazette that retail health is imperative for a town.

“The most important thing is to put empty shops back into use,” he said.

“Banks and insurance companies have been the worst offenders for leaving empty buildings to decay on the main street, while they hold out for higher rents.

“Dunnes Stores has kept a row of shops vacant in the centre of the town for a decade.

“I sat down with them in the Town Hall and they finally agreed to sell or rent out their property to somebody who will actually use it.”

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