Below is a planning observation against an application to convert space intended for a market to a Centra. The space is on Newmarket and Mill Street in the Liberties – previously where the Green Door Market was.

The site was redeveloped several years ago on condition that they had a market space – they are now looking to remove that condition and put in a Centra instead.

The full planning documents are here. The deadline for observations was 10 Feb 2022.

UPDATE: The planning application was thankfully rejected.

I am writing in opposition to the planned change of market space in Newmarket to retail (application no. 3017/22). I believe the proposal would undermine the long-standing market tradition in the area, cause justifiable discontent in the local community, and be contrary to several Dublin City Council decisions and policies.

The application is simply an attempt by the developer to wriggle out of their responsibilities under the planning permission they were granted. The local authority should reject it.

Below are some of the planning reasons for doing so:

1. Contrary to city development plan

The City Development Plan places importance on the development of market spaces:

“Markets, both indoor and outdoor, are increasing in number and success. In many cities outside Ireland, they are major tourist attractions as well as a service for residents. 70 million people visited the Boqueria market in Barcelona in one year. Markets are also supportive of start-up enterprises.”

Page 96

From this, it says:

“It is the policy of Dublin City Council…[t]o recognise that markets, indoor and outdoor, food and other products, have major economic potential, including as key tourist attractions and supports for start-up enterprises.”

Objective CEEE18, Page 97

It even specifically cites Newmarket as a potential achievement or success story:

“Emergent specialised retail and city market outlets, e.g. Cow’s Lane, Francis Street and Newmarket, have consolidated and the Victorian fruit and vegetable market building in Smithfield is undergoing refurbishment before re-opening to the public, proof that good quality produce retailed in a quality built environment is an attractive proposition for consumers.”

Page 105 (emphasis mine)

From this, it states – as a matter of policy – that facilitation of indoor markets as something which add character and vitality to an area:

“It is the policy of Dublin City Council…[t]o facilitate indoor and outdoor markets both in the city centre and throughout the city, and to promote the clustering of complementary uses that add character and vitality to an area.”

RD7, Page 109

Later, it supports the provision of markets as a general social good, making supporting the provision of local markets a clear objective of Dublin City Council:

“It is an Objective of Dublin City Council: (i) To support the provision of community gardens/allotments/local markets/pocket parks, where feasible, and in particular as temporary uses on vacant, under-utilised or derelict sites in the city.”

GIO10, Page 170

Developing market space is a clear policy and objective stated in various chapters of the development plan. The applicants state that their development is permitted under zoning rules: but this ignores the priority the plan attaches to market space in general – and often specifically at this Newmarket site.

The planning documents make great hay in reference to a bespoke, “curated” unit which would act as a community-meeting place etc etc. This vague, unenforceable language should be ignored – far more instructive is the end of the leasing report (page 6), which reveals that what they are speaking of is actually a Centra convenience shop, with a coffee seating area attached.

Flowery language is used to pretend that this development is somehow comparable to the intended market. It is not.

Examples given by the applicant of how the space would look

2. Contravening the SDRA

This site is part of a Strategic Development and Regeneration Area (SDRA). SDRA 16 covers the Liberties and Newmarket Square. Even the title of the SDRA places extra emphasis on Newmarket Square (a space typically considered part of the Liberties), which demonstrates how central it is to the SDRA.

The guiding principles for this SDRA include:

“To recognise the unique role the Liberties plays in Dublin’s character and to ensure that regeneration safeguards a strong sense of community identity. “

Principle 5, SDRA 16, Page 296


“To identify and protect the distinctive heritage of the area and encourage sustainable and innovative re-use of historic spaces and structures.”

Principle 6, SDRA 16, Page 296

Newmarket’s core identity as an area is as a home for markets. To replace a designated market space with a Centra would in no way “safeguard a strong sense of community identity”, nor would it “protect the distinctive heritage of the area”.

If the words of the SDRA are to have any meaning, they surely prevent market space being recast as a generic chain convenience shop.

3. Undermines existing planning decisions

This site has had several planning applications and modifications made on site. In Dublin City Council’s planning assessment at one in 2019 (3672/19), the report said:

“The proposal as submitted, would appear to result in the removal of the Market Areas and a reduction in the floor space associated with the artist’s studios; these were fundamental elements of the scheme granted permission under DCC Reg. Ref. 3321.17. The proposal is considered contrary to the objectives of the Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022 and the Liberties Local Area Plan. The applicant should therefore requested to submit a revised proposal which retains the quantum of floor space for both the market floor space and artists’ studio as per DCC Reg. Ref. 3321.17”

Planning Assessment, Decision Notice 3672/19, page 6 – link

I see no reason why this decision should be revisited. The development plan cited by the planner remains the same. The Liberties Local Area Plan lapsed in 2020, but its principles (as set out above) are continued in SDRA 16, which continues.

As the planning assessment says, the market space is a “fundamental element” of the scheme which was granted permission in 3321/17.

Simply because the applicants have found a more profitable use for the space should not be grounds for them to change a much-needed use. Their hope of profit does not trump the cultural and historical needs of the city, which are set out in the above decision and its planning documents.

Repeated applications on this same point should be met with repeated rejections.