Chapter 6: City economy and enterprise

Dúnta25 Sam, 2021, 12:00am - 14 Fea, 2022, 4:30pm

6.1      Introduction

Ireland’s Internationally Competitive Capital

Dublin is an international city and gateway to the European Union for many businesses. The city region contributes significantly to the Ireland’s economy and is a major economic driver for the country.

Dublin is seen as an attractive place to work and invest and is home to6.5.1 some of the most influential multinational corporations, with substantial clusters in technology and finance. The city has particular importance as an IT Hub (9 out of the top 10 global tech companies are located in Dublin) and is also a centre of emerging as well as established multinationals with a thriving start-up scene.

Dublin’s economy is predominately a services based economy with that sector accounting for c.82% of the total activity while manufacturing and construction combined account for c.19%. As the State’s capital, Dublin performs a significant economic, administrative and cultural role.

Dublin is also one of the leading research, development and innovation locations in the world and has a young and well educated population and a large number of universities, institutes and research centres.

Economic Profile of Dublin City

The population of Dublin City has steadily increased during the last quarter century. From 1991 to 2016, the population of Dublin City as increased by 75,321 persons (14%) from 479,233 to 554,554.

The 2016 Census results indicated that Dublin is a diverse city which has attracted people to move here from abroad. In 2016, the total number of non-Irish people was 17% of the usually resident population. The city is also characterised by a relatively high proportion of young adults between 20–39 years of age (38.6% compared with 27.8% for the state as a whole). There is also a relatively high proportion of the population in the working age cohorts of 25-64 years of age (58.7% compared with 53.4% for the state).

Dublin City is an important place of employment for people who do not live in the city. According to Census Place of Work data (POWCAR), in 2016 there were 256,634 resident workers and 319,092 jobs in Dublin City which means that approximately 19.5% of jobs belonged to non-city residents. This pattern is clearly shown in Figure 6-1 which maps the origin of daytime workers in key centres in Ireland.

Figure 6-1:      Origin of Daytime Workers in Key Centres in Ireland

Source: Bannon Retail Report (2020) based on CSO Data.

Finally, Dublin’s labour force participation rate was 64.7% (compared to the national rate of 61.4%) and the proportion of persons over the age of 15 in the city who were at work was 56.4% (compared to 53.4% nationally). Dublin benefits from a highly educated workforce with 40% educated to third level or higher. It is also a digitally connected city, where 95% of households have fixed broadband.

Figure 6-2 which charts the development of employment by economic sector in the Dublin Region from 2006 to 2017, indicates that the region’s economy is continuing to grow and diversify, with notable increases since 2006 in human health and social work activities, accommodation and food services activities, and in the information and communication sector.

Figure 6-2:      Employment by Economic Sector in Dublin (000’s)

Figure 6.2

Source: Dublin City Local Economic and Community Plan 2016 – 2021

Economic Development Policy

In spatial planning terms, economic policy is addressed in both the NPF and the RSES, as discussed in further detail below.

At a national level, recent economic development policy is focused on supporting the economy as it emerges from the Covid emergency with an Economic Recovery Plan for Ireland announced in June 2021.

The Plan notes that that the role of Dublin, as Ireland’s capital city and economic engine (generating 40% of the GDP of the state), is particularly important in this regard, and states that the Government will bring forward further measures to support the recovery of city centres as the impacts of the Covid pandemic on employment and other city-based economic activities becomes clearer. The next phase of the Dublin Regional Enterprise Plan 2022 – 2024 is currently being finalised to be launched in Q4 2021.

On a regional level, the Dublin Regional Enterprise Plan to 2020, was launched in early 2019 by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. The Plan aims to foster collaboration between regional stakeholders on initiatives that can help to realise each region’s enterprise development potential.

The strategy states that Dublin, as Ireland’s capital city, has a key role in attracting FDI to the country and that it is important that Dublin continues to be a dynamic city that remains attractive for companies seeking a location of international scale for their global operations.

It also notes that it is critical that the planning and development of Ireland’s capital city creates a world-class urban area that continues to attract not only international investment but also international talent.

The government, along with stakeholders including Dublin City Council, is currently developing a new Regional Enterprise Plan for Dublin to 2024 in line with the National Economic Recovery Plan. As well as helping businesses rebuild after COVID-19, this updated Plan will focus on the challenges and opportunities arising from climate action and the growth of digitalisation.

At a local level, the Dublin City Council Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP) 2016-2021 which was prepared by the Dublin City Local Community Development Committee and the Economic Development and Enterprise Strategic Policy Committee consists of a six-year strategy document setting out twelve key social and economic goals for the City.

The vision set out in the plan is ”to grow and sustain a city based on principles of equality, social justice and environmental sustainability where the needs of thriving, active and engaged local communities are served by a strong local economy”. The Dublin City Council Local Enterprise and Community Plan (LECP) 2022 – 2027 is under development for publication in early 2022.

National and Regional Planning Policy

At national level, a key strategic aim of the National Planning Framework (NPF) is “to support the future growth and success of Dublin as Ireland’s leading global city of scale, by better managing Dublin’s growth to ensure that more of it can be accommodated within and close to the city”.

Supporting entrepreneurialism and building competitive clusters is encouraged and the NPF promotes compact urban growth and the development of a limited number of redevelopment and regeneration areas for continued economic growth and investment that will complement the city centre and Docklands.

The NPF acknowledges that there is a need to improve housing choice, transport mobility and quality of life to ensure that the city retains its competitive advantage and that Dublin also needs to become a greener, more environmentally sustainable city in line with international competitors.

These strategic themes are also reflected in the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES), which was aligned with the Government’s 2015 National Enterprise Policy ‘Enterprise 2025’. As is shown in Figure 6.3 overleaf the key elements of the economic strategy set out in the RSES is based on smart specialisation, clustering, orderly growth, future proofing and risk management and placemaking.

Figure 6-3:      RSES Economic Strategy

Figure 6.3
The RSES emphasises the need to increase employment in strategic locations, to provide for people-intensive employment at sustainable locations near high quality public transport nodes, to build on commercial and research synergies in proximity to large employers, industry clusters and smart specialisation and to activate strategic sites to strengthen the local employment base in commuter towns.

In turn, the Metropolitan Area Spatial Plan (MASP) for Dublin (as set out in Chapter 5 of the RSES) calls for increased employment densities within Dublin City and suburbs and at other sustainable locations near high quality public transport nodes, near third level institutes and existing employment hubs, and for the relocation less intensive employment uses outside the M50 ring and existing built-up areas.

6.2      Achievements

During the period of the last development Plan, Dublin’s economy continued its recovery from the last recession and there were a number of significant achievements which have added to the economic competitiveness, attractiveness and vitality of the city.

Foreign Direct Investment

Significant foreign direct investment (FDI) of scale has been secured in Dublin City over the last plan period. Dublin is home to some of the most influential multinational corporations, with substantial clusters in technology, finance and professional services. Within Dublin Docklands, there are over 500 firms operating, including more than half the world’s top 50 banks and top 20 insurance companies. Dublin is also a major global hub for fund administration, aircraft leasing, insurance and a range of wholesale banking activities.

A significant cluster of ICT type uses has emerged in the southeast inner city/Grand Canal Street area, following Google’s decision to locate their European headquarters in Barrow Street in 2011. The area has become home to Facebook, LinkedIn, Airbnb and Amazon.

Grand Canal Innovation District

The Grand Canal Innovation District (GCID) initiative was launched in 2018. The GCID is a national level €1 billion plan to create a hub for innovation world class university research facilities and a start-up ecosystem in the Grand Canals Dock, with a new TCD university campus acting as a connector.

The aim of the initiative is to provide a cluster linking start-ups and growing and established enterprises with research, innovation and academia to promote sustainable economic growth, enhance competitiveness and boost FDI and to benefit the local community.

SMART Districts

Smart Dublin is an initiative founded by the four Dublin Local Authorities which brings together technology providers, academia and citizens to transform public services and enhance quality of life.

In order to accelerate innovation, Smart Dublin has adopted a ‘Smart District Approach’, concentrating new technology pilots in targeted locations across Dublin. The first Smart District, Smart Docklands, was launched in 2018, with four further districts having come on-stream to date; Smart DCU, Smart Sandyford, Smart Balbriggan and Smart D8.

EU Programme Participation Strategy

Dublin City Council recently launched its EU Programme Participation Strategy 2021 – 2027 which will support the identification of opportunities within the EU Partnership Programmes and Projects and EU funding streams to realise Dublin City Council priorities but also contribute to the target areas identified by the European Commission.

This strategy, which builds on Dublin City Council’s track record of participation in a range of EU Programmes, will focus on the following areas: Smart & Digital, Green & Climate, Social & Economics and Urban & Regional Development. A key pillar of the strategy is the establishment of a Dublin City Council EU Programmes Office to provide efficient support services for staff participating or intending to participate in EU partnership projects.

Placemaking and Branding

A number of significant public realm improvement works have been implemented under the Public Realm Masterplan in addition to greening strategy interventions.

Significant work has also been undertaken with regard to Place Branding with the new initiative This platform ( sets out key information regarding living, working, investing and studying in Dublin. A series of successful campaigns to encourage support for local business and to enhance citizen well-being were delivered as a recovery and resilience response to the impact of the pandemic. Dublin City Council also supports the visitor place brand managed by Fáilte Ireland.

Regeneration and Vacancy

There has been significant regeneration in Docklands (North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock area) both north and south of the river Liffey, with new office space in addition to residential and mixed use development. Poolbeg West has been designated as an SDZ and the Planning Scheme for the area proposes a significant quantum of office/enterprise space with a range of typologies to accommodate different types of uses.

A strategic Study of all Z6 and Z7 lands was undertaken over the last plan period, followed by a number of variations to the current Dublin City Development plan to facilitate the repurposing and redevelopment of these strategically located lands for more intensive and appropriate mixed use development.

Sectoral Developments

There has been significant investment in the tourism sector and in particular, the provision of new hotels. In addition, new tourist visitor attractions have been developed, including, the Irish Emigration Museum (EPIC) on Custom House Quay, The Vaults at John Lane West and the Tenement Museum on Henrietta Street.

Fáilte Ireland initiated a number of tourism ventures of note such as the Docklands Visitor Experience Development (VEDP) Plan, a Visitor Orientation Strategy and have collaborated with Dublin City Council to develop ‘Dubline’, an international quality, walking heritage trail from Parnell Square to Kilmainham.

In the education sector, significant recent developments include the consolidation of the TU academic facilities into the new campus at Grangegorman and the ongoing programme of investment in the DCU campus. In the healthcare and health sciences sector, the construction of the National Children’s Hospital has commenced on the St. James’ Hospital site.

Finally, Dublin Port continues to modernise and consolidate its operations with the company making considerable infrastructural investment at the port to facilitate larger vessels and provide for increased capacity.

Local Initiatives and Economic Development

A significant achievement in relation to the economic development of local communities across the city during the course of the last Development Plan period has been the implementation of the Dublin City Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP) 2016–2021.

The Dublin City Council Local Economic Office (LEO) are responsible for the implementation of the plan and have provided support to a number of projects and initiatives over the past number of years that contribute significantly to the city economy.

During the Covid 19 global pandemic; the Local Enterprise Office and Economic Development supported 19,939 businesses. Dublin City Council, through their financial team and LEO Financial team administered Direct Financial Supports to the value of €107.6 million.

6.3      Challenges

As a city with a growing, internationally-oriented and open economy, Dublin faces considerable challenges in maintaining economic growth. In the short to medium term, the Covid 19 crisis poses the greatest challenge to the city economy both in terms of the direct impact of business closures, but also changes in how people work, shop and relax in the city.

Brexit is another external challenge which has the potential to impact on sectors which are heavily reliant on the flow of goods to and from Britain and Northern Ireland.

Internal challenges include the ongoing shortage of quality affordable housing to cater for the city’s growing working population as well bottlenecks in the provision of essential transportation, water services and sanitation infrastructure. Associated with this is the need to provide a high quality environment to make the more city liveable for existing and future residents.

Another challenge relates to the continuing concentrations of social and economic deprivation in some parts of the city and the need to progress the redevelopment of key regeneration sites in the city. This challenge highlights the need to support inclusive growth throughout the region, particularly in deprived or underperforming areas, to ensure an appropriately qualified and skilled workforce, to improve levels of female participation in the workforce and to address pockets of deprivation and economic inequality in the city.

In the longer term, climate change may have significant impacts in terms of extreme weather events and flooding which could disrupt economic activity and damage critical infrastructure.

6.4      Strategic Approach

The strategic approach to the city economy and enterprise set out in this chapter aligns with the overall goals of national, regional and local economic and planning policy outlined above. As a result, the strategic approach underpinning the policies and objectives contained in the following section of this chapter will seek to:

  • safeguard and enhance Dublin’s role as Ireland’s internationally competitive capital;
  • promote strategic and targeted employment growth;
  • support regeneration and tackle vacancy;
  • underscore the importance of climate action, placemaking and quality of life;
  • support key economic sectors; and
  • support innovation and smart specialisation;
  • foster local action, diversity, inclusiveness and openness.

This strategic approach also forms part of an overall spatial strategy for the development of the economy of Dublin City in the context of the wider Dublin metropolitan region, as is discussed in the next section.

6.5      Policies and Objectives

6.5.1  Ireland’s Internationally Competitive Capital

Dublin’s crucial economic role is recognised in the NPF which states that Dublin is Ireland’s globally competitive city of scale and continues to drive much of the growth of the country as a whole while the RSES describes the city as an international business core with a highly concentrated and diversified employment base and higher order retail, arts, culture and leisure offer. It is of central importance that Dublin’s role as the national economic engine is not only protected but also further enhanced during the period of this Development Plan.

In addition to catering for the needs of Foreign Direct Investment, the need for ongoing support for Irish owned enterprises and SMEs will be important to ensure that the City builds resilience in the enterprise sector so that it can evolve and adapt to the ever changing global economic environment and technological changes.

It is acknowledged that the creation of an ecosystem of innovative start-ups, social enterprises, micro-businesses and small businesses will be central to Dublin’s continued economic success and the Council will seek, where possible, to promote the development of skills and entrepreneurship, sites for high tech and potential start-ups, smart city programmes and collaboration between public bodies, industries and research.

The central part Dublin plays in the ‘all-island’ economy is also recognised in the NPF, RSES, and more recently in a specific initiative which aims to further develop the Dublin to Belfast Economic Corridor[1] ( As noted in the RSES, the Corridor has the capacity to provide the only potential paired city growth pole of scale on the Island- reaching a European benchmark 5 million population target to compete with similar city regions in the EU.

Given the significant changes in international relations associated with the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, it is increasingly important that Ireland as a whole and Dublin City in particular, seeks to reposition itself as a key member of the EU while retaining strong and mutually beneficial economic ties to UK.

The recent launch of Dublin City Council’s EU Programme Participation Strategy 2021 – 2027 which provides for the establishment of a Dublin City Council EU Programmes Office represents an important element of the city’s overall strategy to position itself as an internationally competitive, European capital city.

Image of street Dublin

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Dublin’s Role as the National Economic Engine
  1. To promote and enhance the role of Dublin as the national economic engine and driver of economic recovery and growth, with the city centre as its core economic generator.
  2. To promote and facilitate Dublin as a creative and innovative city that is globally competitive, internationally linked, attractive and open.
  3. To promote an internationalisation strategy building mutually-beneficial economic and other links with key cities globally to encourage investment and tourism in Dublin.


Positive Approach to the Economic Impact of Applications

To take a positive and proactive approach when considering the economic impact of major planning applications in order to support economic development, enterprise and employment growth and also to deliver high-quality outcomes.


Promoting and Facilitating Foreign Direct Investment
  1. To promote and facilitate foreign direct investment into the city by working closely with the IDA and other agencies, and having regard to the needs of international investment.
  2. To recognise that there is a role for Dublin City Council in establishing a positive and attractive ‘brand’ for the city and in facilitating investment in the ongoing growth and regeneration of the city.


Promoting and Facilitating Indigenous Enterprise Growth

To support the creation of an ecosystem of innovative start-ups, social enterprise, micro-business and small business and, where possible, to promote the development of skills and entrepreneurship, sites for high tech and potential start-ups, smart city programmes and collaboration between public bodies, industries and research.


Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor

To build on and promote the Dublin–Belfast economic corridor in order to maximise the advantages of north–south links and the development of an all-Ireland economy.


Dublin as an EU Capital City

To support the implementation of the Dublin City Council’s EU Programme Participation Strategy 2021 – 2027 and the work of the Council’s EU Programmes Office.

6.5.2  Strategic and Targeted Employment Growth

In order to maximise the potential of Dublin as a whole, it will be necessary to ensure the strategic and targeted growth of employment in specific areas of the city. This is in line with the NPF which emphasises the importance of identifying locations where enterprises can access competitively priced development lands, utilities and commercial properties to the highest standards available internationally.

Strategic Development Areas and Corridors

Following on from this, the RSES and the MASP identified four strategic residential and employment development areas and corridors in the Dublin Metropolitan area to create sustainable compact communities and employment. The criteria for identifying the corridors involved a selection of strategic development opportunities identified by local authorities and included an evidence-based analysis of their current and future development capacity and their potential to deliver agreed strategic outcomes.

The MASP provides additional guidance relating to the development of specific strategic development areas within each area and corridor. The table below sets out the relevant employment-related guidance for strategic development areas which are located in the Dublin City Council area.

Table 6-1:        MASP Guidance for Employment in Strategic Development Areas

MASP Area / Corridor

Strategic Development Area

Overall Objective

Employment/Mixed Use

City Centre within the M50

City Centre

Regeneration of older social housing projects (former PPPs), Parkwest-Cherry Orchard, Ballymun, Ashtown-Pelletstown and St. James – Heuston lands

Regeneration of Diageo lands, health and education related employment at St. James and Grangegorman campus


Build out of North Lotts and Grand Canal Docks with further physical and social regeneration of Poolbeg and northeast inner-city lands

Further development of people intensive high tech and services based business districts in Docklands and Poolbeg

Naas Road

Significant brownfield lands with potential for residential development and more intensive employment/ mixed uses

Re-intensification of underutilised lands including Naas road and older industrial estates, subject to feasibility study

North-South Corridor

North Fringe

Large scale urban expansion creating new communities including Clongriffin-Belmayne

Completion of mixed-use districts with retail and service provision

The designation of these areas are part of a strategy aimed at increasing employment densities at the right places within Dublin City and suburbs and at other sustainable locations near high quality public transport nodes, near third level institutes and existing employment hubs, and by relocating less intensive employment uses outside the M50 ring and existing built-up areas.

This strategy also entails continuing densification in the city centre, re-intensifying strategic employment areas within the M50 ring and activating key strategic sites to complement existing employment hubs.

The overall approach to employment growth set out in this Plan reflects the RSES/MASP strategy in that it provides for the appropriate economic development of specific areas of the city such as: the City Centre, the Docklands, the Outer City and Key Urban Villages.

The City Centre

The focus of the strategy for the inner city and its immediately surrounding neighbourhoods within the canals will be to encourage balanced economic investment with an increased focus on liveability, enhanced public realm and mobility measures. The city centre will retain and build upon its existing role as one of Ireland’s most important employment areas with a mix of office, retail, residential, tourism related and cultural activities.

Significant potential exists to generate additional employment in the city centre area with the redevelopment of the Diageo lands at St. James’ Gate. Furthermore, the development of the National Children’s Hospital at St. James is also a significant investment for the inner city and opportunities for a health cluster aligned with the children’s hospital and the future proposed National Maternity Hospital will be fully exploited.

It is also envisaged that there will be further development of the Technological University Dublin campus at Grangegorman over the plan period. Opportunities to develop clusters of economic development, employment and innovation in the fields of higher education will be encouraged in and around the campus.

To support the economic development of the City Centre, a number of Strategic Regeneration and Development Areas (SDRAs) have been designated in the city centre area. As outlined in Chapter 13, the designation of these areas as SDRAs will support the delivery of a significant quanta of homes and employment for the city.

The Docklands

In terms of economic development employment, the Docklands area has been rapidly transformed in recent years and it is now home to a significant number of multinational corporations with notable clusters in the technology and finance sectors. The launch of the Grand Canal Innovation District (GCID) is an indication of the potential for the area to improve the city’s overall competitiveness and innovative capacity.

The development of people intensive high tech and services based business districts in Docklands and Poolbeg as identified in the MASP is set to continue.

The implementation of the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock SDZ Planning Scheme will provide for major job creation potential with 345,000 sq. m. of commercial space. Furthermore, under the Poolbeg West Planning Scheme, provision has been made for over 80,000–100,000 sq. m. of commercial floorspace with the potential to provide employment for up to 8,000 workers. Docklands is also identified as a SDRA. This will facilitate the further regeneration of key development sites throughout the area as set out in Chapter 13 of this Plan.

The Outer City

The outer city refers to the newly developing areas on the fringe of the city administrative area including Clongriffin-Belmayne, Ashtown-Pelletstown, Park West and Cherry Orchard. It is envisaged that these large suburban areas will be further integrated into the structure of the city with opportunities for intensification of infill, brownfield and underutilised land fully explored, particularly where it aligns with existing and future public transport infrastructure. This includes the intensification of lands zoned Z6 and Z7 under the previous plan through mixed use, including employment, densification and increased heights, subject to development plan criteria.

Key Urban Villages and Neighbourhood Centres

Over the next plan period, the strategic approach is to strengthen the hierarchy of urban villages in the inner suburbs and outer city. As set out in Chapter 7, twelve Key Urban Villages (KUVs) have been identified as centres for local services which will continue to provide a range of retail, commercial, employment, community and other services and will play a key role in developing the concept of a 15 minute city.

Also within the outer city are smaller Neighbourhood Centres and urban villages. They play an important role in the local economy and are considered appropriate localities for a range of community based employment.

It is acknowledged that the Covid 19 pandemic has had a significant economic impact on these Key Urban Villages and Neighbourhood Centres/urban villages. The pandemic has brought about changes in how and where people work and presents an opportunity for these centres to play a new role as people choose to spend more time working in, or close to where they live.

To take advantage of these opportunities, it will be necessary to facilitate the development of additional ‘office-hub’ and ‘co-working’ spaces particularly in key urban villages and urban centres and to move towards a more diverse mix of uses than is currently found in such centres at present. This will also support the development of additional community oriented workspaces which will in turn help strengthen the social enterprise sector.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Strategic and Targeted Employment Growth

To promote strategic and targeted growth of strategic development areas and corridors in accordance with the RSES and MASP with a focus on the city centre, the Docklands, the Outer City and Key Urban Villages and Neighbourhood Centres/Urban Villages.


The City Centre

To support the development a vibrant mix of office, retail, tourism related and cultural activities in the city centre and to facilitate the regeneration and development of key potential growth areas such as the Diageo lands, the St. James’ Hospital Campus and the TU Dublin campus at Grangegorman.


The Docklands

To support the continued regeneration of the Docklands area and its development as a leading centre of people intensive high tech and services based business.


The Outer City

To support employment growth in the outer city by encouraging the intensification of infill, brownfield and underutilised land, particularly where it aligns with existing and future public transport infrastructure.


Key Urban Villages

To promote Key Urban Villages as mixed use service centres for the local economy, incorporating a range of retail, employment, recreational, community uses as well as ‘co-working spaces’ and ‘office hubs.

6.5.3  Climate Action and Quality of Life

Climate change is one of the most pressing global challenges facing this, and future generations. Transitioning to a low carbon and climate resilient society is one of the eight National Strategic Outcomes (NSOs) set out in the NPF, and climate action is one of the three key principles of the RSES.

In economic policy terms, the National Economic Recovery Plan notes that climate action and sustainability is now embedded across the enterprise policy landscape, including through the Regional Enterprise Plans which will include a focus on climate action and Just Transition.

Many of the proposed climate action mitigation and adaptation measures, such as the move to more sustainable modes of transportation, the switch to low carbon energy sources, and the use of nature based solutions will contribute to improvements in the overall attractiveness of the city as a place to live and work.

The economic benefits of creating healthy and attractive places is highlighted in the NPF which notes that the nature of urban places is a critical factor in determining economic growth and regional development. ‘Healthy Placemaking’ is also a key principle of the RSES which seeks to promote people’s quality of life through the creation of healthy and attractive places to live, work, visit, invest and study in.

Furthermore, as stated in the National Economic Recovery Plan, as the economy shifts towards a climate neutral future, new economic opportunities will arise for both existing and new enterprises with the development of new ‘green economy’ sectors such as renewable energy, retrofitting, and electric vehicles (EV) and EV charging infrastructure.

National economic and waste policy also emphasises the need to transition to a circular economy approach to consumption and to the prevention of waste as part of the country’s overall efforts to combat climate change (see Chapter 3: Climate Action).

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Transition to a Low Carbon, Climate Resilient City Economy

To support the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient city economy, as part of, and in tandem with, increased climate action mitigation and adaptation measures.


Towards a Green and Circular Economy

To support the growth of the ‘green economy’ including renewable energy, retrofitting, and electric vehicles and charging infrastructure and to support the transition towards a circular economy in line with national policy and legislation.


Quality of Place

To recognise that ‘quality of place’, ‘clean, green and safe’, is crucial to the economic success of the city, in attracting foreign and domestic investment, and in attracting and retaining key scarce talent, residents and tourists.

6.5.4  Local Economic Development and Social Enterprise

The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) is responsible for the development and management of numerous business support programs and initiatives and are responsible for the implementation of enterprise action under the city’s Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP) which was published in 2016. The Dublin City Council Local Enterprise and Community Plan (LECP) 2022 – 2027 is under review; for publication in early 2022.

LEO and the LECP also support social innovation and the activities of social enterprises in the city which trade for a social/societal purpose and assist with addressing social, economic and environmental challenges while fostering inclusive growth, shared prosperity, social inclusion, training and job creation often for marginalised people.

Dublin City Council is involved in a number of initiatives that support the development of social economy enterprises that work to address a wide range of challenges that deliver on the objectives of developing a greener and more inclusive economy and society.

In this regard, the Council will seek to maximise opportunities, through working with a wide range of stakeholders who support the development of the social economy at European, National, Regional and local levels. Dublin City Council is participating in the European Social Economy Regions (ESER) programme and is participating in an OECD Eurocities Peer Learning Social Economy Network project designed to identify solutions to challenges created or accelerated by the Covid 19 pandemic.

Support is also ongoing to work with the implementation group for the National Social Enterprise Strategy 2019 – 2022. The Dublin City Council Social Enterprise Awards delivered in partnership with Inner City Enterprise and the Department of Rural and Community Development, continues to support early stage social enterprises with funding, mentoring and profiling supports. The GrowDublin8 Social Enterprise consortium will continue to meet and deliver on the actions contained in the GrowDublin8 Social Enterprise Strategy launched in 2020.

Finally, the principles of equality and diversity are important factors in ensuring that the city’s economy works for the benefit of all of the people of Dublin and it should be recognised that that economic activities should be accessible to older and disabled people. Living wage employment also has a role to play in improving the conditions of low-paid workers.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


The Local Enterprise Office and the Local Economic and Community Plan

To support the work of the City Council’s Local Enterprise Office (LEO) as a core instrument of local economic and enterprise support and development for SMEs and micro-enterprises and to promote and facilitate the implementation of the policies and objectives of the Local Economic and Community Plan.


Social Innovation and Enterprise

To promote and facilitate Dublin City as a hub for social enterprise in order to help address some of the critical needs within the city and to maximise European funding opportunities, in particular, through working with the proposed National Competence Centre in Social Innovation.


Quality of Life

To recognise that economic activities should be accessible to older and disabled people and to promote jobs which provide quality of life and allow workers to play a full social and economic role in the development of the city.


Agencies Engaged in Employment and Training Programmes

To facilitate agencies engagement in employment and training programmes, in order to maximise employment, training and education opportunities for resident of all ages, particularly in areas of disadvantage; and to encourage social labour clauses in City Council projects.

6.5.5  Regeneration and Vacancy

In addition to contributing to the overall quality and attractiveness of the city, the redevelopment of regeneration areas has the potential to directly benefit the city’s economy through the creation of jobs in the construction sector, the provision of new retail, commercial and office floorspace to accommodate new residential units.

Vacancy is another significant issue for the city economy as vacant commercial and residential floorspace represent not only a misuse of a valuable resource, but also detracts from the urban quality and on the attractiveness of an area for its residents, visitors, businesses and for potential investors. As noted in Chapter 2: Core Strategy, the City Council is actively pursuing vacant sites through the implementation of the Vacant Site levy (VSR). The VSR plays an ongoing role in the City’s Active Land Management role in enhancing the physical environment of the city and mitigating the negative impacts of vacant land on the economy of the city.

The expedient redevelopment of extensive vacant/under-utilised sites, especially in the city centre area, is critical to sustainable development. Putting in place a critical mass of investment and development in the short-term is essential to break the negative cycle of underdevelopment and to overcome the barriers to progress that have existed.

The City Council will look positively on appropriate temporary uses as interim solutions for vacant land and properties.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Regeneration Areas

To promote and facilitate the transformation of Strategic Development and Regeneration Areas (SDRAs) in the city, as a key policy priority and opportunity to improve the attractiveness and competitiveness of the city, including by promoting high-quality private and public investment and by seeking European Union funding to support regeneration initiatives, for the benefit of residents, employees and visitors.


Vacant Sites
  1. To engage in the ‘active land management’ of vacant sites and properties including those owned by Dublin City Council.
  2. To engage proactively with land-owners, potential developers and investors with the objective of encouraging the early and high quality re-development of such vacant sites.
  3. To encourage and facilitate the rehabilitation and use of vacant and under-utilised buildings, including their upper floors.
  4. To promote and facilitate the use, including the temporary use, of vacant commercial space and vacant sites, for a wide range of enterprise including cultural uses.

6.5.6  Key Economic Sectors

Dublin has an open, international, competitive and diversified economy. It is a major hub for leading IT and financial services companies as well as for research and development activities. It is also a major tourism, leisure and culture destination and has a vibrant restaurant, food, distillery and craft sector.

The city is home to a number of world class educational institutions as well as a growing health and health sciences sector. Finally, it is a major transport and logistics hub with Dublin Port providing a direct trading route to the UK and Continental Europe.

It is critical that these and other key economic sectors are supported in order to ensure the economic well-being of the city. It is also important that support is provided for the emergence of new, innovative sectors, such as the green economy, biosciences and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which have the potential to shape the economy of the future.

Office and Commercial Floorspace

While the Covid-19 pandemic has caused what is likely to be some long-lasting change in how and where people work on a day-to-day basis, an adequate supply of high quality office and commercial floorspace will still be a key requirement for Dublin’s economy in the future.

A choice of good quality and cost-competitive office and commercial space is critical in attracting investment, supporting enterprises and generating employment and there is an ongoing need to encourage the high quality re-development of outdated office stock.

Attracting headquarter type uses to the city is a key foreign direct investment strategy. However, there is a limited supply of the large footplate offices outside of Docklands, Heuston and the suburbs. Sites of sufficient size to provide such floor-plates are often found in regeneration areas and this represents a significant strategic advantage for Dublin.

While the Covid-19 pandemic may not have removed the need for high quality office space in the city, it has demonstrated the feasibility of ‘decentralised working’ as improved technology allow people greater flexibility to work from home or from ‘co-working’ spaces close to where they live.

This ‘hybrid’ work model is likely to be a more important feature of the work landscape of the city as the economy reopens after the Covid-19 pandemic and could result in a greater demand for co-working spaces outside of traditional business and office locations in the city centre. Such co-working spaces should be accessible to all and could act as valuable resources for the local community.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Supply of Commercial Space and Redevelopment of Office Stock
  1. To promote and facilitate the supply of commercial space, where appropriate, including larger office floorplates suitable for indigenous and FDI HQ-type uses.
  2. To consolidate employment provision in the city by incentivising and facilitating the high-quality re-development of obsolete office stock in the city.

New Growth Sectors and Innovation

As outlined in Section 6.5.3 above, the requirement to shift to a climate resilient, low carbon, green and circular economy has the potential to create new growth sectors based on the provision of environmental services and sustainable energy and transport technologies.

The National Economic Recovery Plan also points to other sources of future economic opportunity associated with the transition to a digitised society, which has been accelerated by the increased adoption of digital ways of working and delivering services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This will require Ireland to be at the frontier of technological developments by rapidly adopting new technologies to boost productivity and to ensure that the country continues to be competitive internationally.

The Smart Dublin initiative is a successful example of a project which seeks to drive innovation in the use of data to address a range of challenges facing the city. This initiative was set up by the four Dublin local authorities, to engage with technology providers, researchers and citizens, to use new technologies – such as Big Data and the Internet of Things - to deal with priority city challenges.

The initiative has seen the establishment of a number of Smart Districts across the city. These are strategically selected locations where innovation projects are fast-tracked to deliver projects designed to meet the needs of the people who live and work there.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


New Growth Sectors

To support the growth of innovative new growth sectors as identified in the National Economic Recovery Plan relating to the digital transformation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), to the decarbonisation of society, and to the circular economy.


Smart Dublin

To support the Smart Dublin Initiative in implementing its goals both at a citywide level and the local level via Smart Districts.

The Marine Sector

Another significant source of potential growth for the city’s economy is the marine sector which includes shipping and maritime transport, energy, tourism, fisheries, seafood, aquaculture and offshore renewables.

As stated in the recently adopted National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF), sustainable development and use of marine resources can provide multiple economic benefits at a community, regional and national level, including economic growth, skills development, employment, maintaining or increasing population levels and opportunities for investment and trade.

The NMPF supports proposals for the development of land-based infrastructure, which facilitates marine activity, and the diversification or regeneration of marine industries. It also supports proposals for the development of marine infrastructure that facilitates land-based activity.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


The Marine Sector

To support the development of the marine sector including the development, where appropriate, of land-based infrastructure, which facilitates marine activity, and the diversification or regeneration of marine industries.

Data Centres

The accelerating digitisation of our society has created an increased international demand for additional data storage and processing infrastructure resulting in the development of large data centres in Ireland.

In 2017, the Government published a statement on the role of Data Centres in Ireland’s Enterprise Strategy. This document emphasised a plan-led approach to promoting regional options for data centre investment.

Chapter 15: Development Standards provides additional detail as to the specific requirements relating to this form of development.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Data Centres

To require applications for new data centre development to clearly demonstrate how the proposed development:

  • achieves high levels of energy efficiency;
  • maximises the use on-site renewable energy;
  • captures and reuses waste heat; and
  • is signed-up to the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact.

Tourism, Hotels and Events

Dublin is the most important overseas tourism destination in the country and tourism is a central pillar of the city’s economy. Fáilte Ireland estimate that in 2019 Dublin welcomed 6.3 million overseas tourists and 1.7 million domestic trips, generating a total spend of €2.4 billion and supporting 65,000 jobs. The sector however, has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and a significant effort will be required to rebuild tourism in Dublin.

Fáilte Ireland reported in 2020, Dublin had been hit particularly hard, with 98% of tourism businesses in the capital reporting reduced customer levels during 2020, due largely to the city’s reliance on the overseas tourist market for business.

The City Council has been working with Fáilte Ireland and other agencies in the successful development of the tourism sector in Dublin and has initiated a number of tourism ventures. Such initiatives will become even more important as the tourism sector begins to recover in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Key strategic goals for tourism development in Dublin City post-Covid will be an increased focus on the domestic market, the continuation of a character mapping exercise for the city, the development of outdoor tourism experiences including the Dublin Coastal trail and Canals Greenway, as well as the implementation of the Docklands Visitor Experience Development Plan.

The City Council and Fáilte Ireland are also working on the development of ‘Smart Tourism’, which relates to the use of information and communication technology to develop innovative tools and approaches to improve tourism.

With regard to the provision of hotel accommodation in the capital, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dublin City was experiencing hotel occupancy rates which was amongst the highest occupancy rates reported for comparable destinations.[2] As a result, towards the end of the last Development Plan period, the city saw numerous applications for the development of new hotels and for the expansion of existing hotels in the city.

While such development is to be welcomed in that it provides for much needed additional accommodation for tourists visiting the city, it will be important to avoid the overconcentration of hotel development in areas of the city which currently have high levels of existing hotel, aparthotel and student accommodation development or in areas where significant number of planning applications have been made for new or expanded hotel and aparthotel development.

Avoiding an overconcentration of hotel development in certain areas of the city centre is particularly important in the context of wider objectives to create a rich and vibrant range of uses in the city centre. As a result, the Council will consider applications for additional hotel and aparthotel development having regard to the existing and proposed mix of uses associated in the vicinity of any such proposed development.

As specified in Chapter 15: Development Standards (Section 15.14.1), where the planning authority deems there to be an overconcentration of such facilities in an area, the applicant will be requested to submit a report indicating all existing and proposed hotel and aparthotel developments within a 1km catchment and justification that the development will not undermine the principles of achieving a balanced pattern of development in the area.

To assist in the consideration of applications for hotel, aparthotel and hostel accommodation in the city, Dublin City Council will carry out an analysis of the supply and demand for tourism related accommodation in the Dublin City area.

In addition, there will be a presumption against the use of houses or apartments for short-term lets in all areas of the city.


Pre-Covid 19, 2019 figures put the annual value of business tourism at €760 million and Fáilte Ireland, had ambitious plans to grow this to €1 billion by 2025.

International conferences and large scale events make a significant contribution to the local economy and help raise the profile of the city. Whilst this sector has been impacted by Covid, Dublin is fortunate to have high quality, event venues including the RDS, the National Convention Centre, Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium which are capable of hosting a range of different type of sporting, entertainment, business and culture related activities and events.

Where appropriate, and having regard to the proper planning and sustainable development of the city, the City Council will support ancillary development at these venues, such as large scale capital investment projects, where it is demonstrated that it is necessary to consolidate, enhance and improve the existing event facility and where the development will not undermine the functionality of the venue or have an undue negative impact on the residential amenity of the surrounding areas.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Tourism in Dublin
  1. To promote and facilitate tourism as one of the key economic pillars of the city’s economy and a major generator of employment and to support the appropriate, balanced provision of tourism facilities and visitor attractions.
  2. To promote and enhance Dublin as a world class tourist destination for leisure, culture, business and student visitors and to promote Dublin as a setting for conventions and cultural events.
  3. To improve the accessibility of tourism infrastructure to recognise the access needs of all visitors to our city.


Tourism Initiatives

To work with Fáilte Ireland and other stakeholders to deliver on significant tourism development initiatives for the city including ‘Smart Tourism’, the Dublin Coastal Trail and the Docklands Visitor Experience Development (VEDP) Plan.


Tourism Accommodation

To consider applications for additional hotel, tourist hostel and aparthotel development having regard to:

  • The existing character of the area in which the development is proposed including local amenities and facilities;
  • the existing and proposed mix of uses (including existing levels of tourism accommodation i.e. existing and permitted hotel, aparthotel and student accommodation uses) in the vicinity of any proposed development;
  • the impact of additional tourism accommodation on the wider objective to provide a rich and vibrant range of uses in the city centre;
  • the need to prevent an unacceptable intensification of activity, particularly in predominantly residential areas;
  • the opportunity presented to provide high quality, designed for purpose spaces that can accommodate evening and night time activities – see also Chapter 12, Objective CUO34.


Event Venues

To support the continued operation and appropriate consolidation of event venues including the RDS, National Convention Centre, Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium and where appropriate, to enable them to make large scale capital investment relating to the provision of tourism, business facilities and culture-related spaces, events, conventions and activities, where such proposals support investment and growth of the overall facility and do not diminish their function as nationally important venues.

It is an Objective of Dublin City Council:


Study on the Supply and Demand for Hotels, Aparthotels and Hostels

To carry out an analysis of the supply and demand for tourism related accommodation including hotels, aparthotels and hostels in the Dublin City area.

Restaurants, Food and Markets

The services sector (e.g. entertainment, restaurants, cultural and other services etc.) has been a major wealth and employment generator for Dublin and plays a pivotal role in determining the performance of the economy. For further policies relating this sector refer to Chapter 7.

Healthcare and Health Related Sectors

The clustering of major acute hospitals, together with the related clinical research and laboratory facilities on the campus, will not only generate significant additional direct and indirect employment but will also attract new health and knowledge-related industries, thus acting as a catalyst for urban regeneration in the south-west inner city, and in the St. James Medical Campus & Environs SDRA in particular (SDRA 14).

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Hospitals and Healthcare

To recognise that hospitals and the wider healthcare sector are crucial to the wellbeing of the city, including as major sources of employment, economic development and innovation; and to promote and facilitate their development and expansion.


Strategic Role of Hospital Complexes

(i) To recognise the strategic economic role of the hospital complexes in the city, including the new National Paediatric Hospital and the proposed National Maternity Hospital at the St. James campus and to promote their wider catchment areas as suitable locations for new healthcare-related development.

(ii) To promote and facilitate the continued development of the Dublin 8 area including SDRA 14 (St. James Medical Campus & Environs) as a medical hub of excellence.

Education and Training

The role education plays in addressing economic disadvantage and in providing the high quality labour force which makes Dublin so attractive to leading international and national companies is recognised. In addition to serving as an educational hub for students from all parts of Ireland, Dublin has also been successful in attracting international and English language students.

Dublin is home to four universities (Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Technological University Dublin and Dublin City University) and one Institute of Technology (Institute of Art, Design & Technology). A key part to the region’s success is in how these institutions actively work to build industry links and offer extensive research capabilities to companies through a number of Technology and Applied Research Centres.

There are numerous other significant third level education providers in the city including the National College of Ireland, the National College of Art and Design, Dublin Business School and Griffith College. Of particular note is the City of Dublin Education and Training Board who operate a number of higher education facilities across the City – all of which offer a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

These services, particularly the City of Dublin ETB, are important as, while Dublin has a high rate of participation in third level education, a relatively high proportion of the city’s population are early school leavers and there is a correlation between this and the spatial distribution of deprivation in the city. The Council will seek to work with training and education providers to facilitate measures which seek to extend education opportunities to representatives from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Dublin City Council is a member of the Dublin Regional Skills Forum, which plays an important role in connecting the training and upskilling needs of employers with the educational and training providers, to meet the emerging skills need of the region.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Education and the City Economy

To promote Dublin as a national and international education centre/student city, as set out in national policy, and to facilitate and promote synergies between education, industry and entrepreneurship with an emphasis on retaining talent in the city, facilitating the expansion of existing economic clusters and the establishment of new clusters, and increasing participation in the city’s labour force.


Access to Education

To work with training and education providers to facilitate measures which seek to extend education opportunities to representatives from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Creative Industries and Craft Enterprises

Creative industries play an important role in the city economy. The arts and recreation sector accounts for almost 6% of all employment in the capital and has experienced comparatively faster growth than the EU average since 2011.

Given the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on this sector, it is of particular importance to maximise opportunities and provide support for the creative industries and cultural and artistic sectors in order to ensure their recovery and future growth. Chapter 12: Culture addresses the central role such cultural activities play in the life of the city.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Craft Enterprises

To recognise that craft enterprises, designers’ studios/workshops etc., along with visitor centres, provide economic development and regeneration potential for the city, including the promotion of tourism. To promote Dublin city centre as a destination for such creative industries and for the cultural and artistic sectors.

Transportation, Logistics and Dublin Port

As an export-driven economy on the periphery of Europe and the home of the European or EMEA headquarters for many global enterprises, the transport and logistics sector is, despite the short term impact of Brexit, a significant and growing sector in Dublin.

As the economy continues to grow and the shift to online retail continues, logistics and storage is expected to be the fastest growing employment sector in Dublin over the coming decade. This will be driven by demand for both passenger and freight transport and associated activities, including storage and courier services.

Dublin Port is a particularly important element of the city’s transportation and logistics infrastructure and continues to play a significant role in the economy of the city. Dublin Port handles almost 50% of all trade in the Republic of Ireland and is a key strategic access point for Ireland and the Dublin area.

As set out in the Dublin Port Company Masterplan 2012-2040, the Port will have an important role to play in the future development and growth of the city. The Masterplan includes an overall objective to reintegrate the Port with the city and to create a unique fusion between the working port and the living city through the creation of high quality spaces.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Dublin Port

To recognise that Dublin Port is a key economic resource and to have regard to the policies and objectives of the Dublin Port Masterplan including the reintegration of the Port with the City.


[1] See Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor (2021) The Dublin–Belfast Economic Corridor: Current Profile, Potential for Recovery and Opportunities for Cooperation.

[2] According to Fáilte Ireland’s (2018) Analysis of Tourist Accommodation in Dublin 2018-20, average hotel occupancy rates in Dublin were 83% in 2017. Data collected by STR indicates that this fell to 30% for hotels in Dublin in 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic.