Chapter 7: The city centre, urban villages and retail

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

7.1      Introduction

Dublin city’s urban centres comprise the city centre, which is the prime retail destination for the country, surrounded by a network of inner and outer suburban centres of different scales. These centres offer a range of opportunities for retail, community and social interaction, services, jobs / business development, amenities and cultural and artistic engagement.

Dublin City Centre is where people come to experience the city’s vibrant street scenes, public spaces and a varied cultural and leisure offer and where they come to shop, work, study, live, socialise and spend time. These activities are facilitated by an increasingly integrated public transport system serving the city centre and progressively improving active travel options.

The city’s Key Urban Villages, urban villages and neighbourhood centres are the heart of their local communities; they provide a focus for local activities, allow sustainable urban living and allow people access to local shops, services, community services, information, healthcare, amenities and to work locally. These centres have high levels of access to quality public transport and bus services.

Changes in economic conditions, technological advances, retail trends, changing consumer behaviours and the impacts and changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic have and continue to result in new patterns of work and lifestyles. As people can now shop and work and be entertained from home they are using the urban centres differently. In the city centre, for example, a broader leisure experience of shopping, eating, relaxing, working, browsing and culture draws visitors into the city centre; they come for a day or evening out, looking to eat, drink and visit the cinema etc., as well as shop.

In order to evolve and adapt to these trends, the city centre and the city’s other urban centres will need to offer wide ranging appeal to draw and attract visitors. This includes leisure uses, residential uses, office and community uses as well as retail uses. To sustain and grow urban centres in the longer term, there will also need to be greater opportunities for people to live and spend time in these centres. In order to achieve thriving, inclusive and healthy sustainable urban centres, these centres need to be transformed into attractive and vibrant urban areas offering more space and comfort for pedestrians, a high quality public realm, amenities, active travel opportunities and opportunities for social / community interaction, cultural events and urban greening.

7.2      Achievements

At a strategic level, the Luas Cross City link, constructed in 2017, now connects the Grafton Street shopping area on the southern side of the River Liffey to the O’Connell Street / Henry Street shopping area to the north of the river. This public transport infrastructure supports and improves access to the city’s main shopping streets by providing the city’s residents as well as visitors with new options for travelling to the city centre, by allowing people far greater ease of movement around the city and by providing new access routes to the main shopping streets. The arrival of Luas Cross City has and will continue to stimulate private sector investment in the city centre.

Over the last development plan period, a number of large scale mixed use and retail developments have been developed or are currently being progressed in the city centre. These include the flagship refurbishment and extension of the former Clery’s Department Store on O’Connell Street to provide a new retail, office, hotel and food quarter destination.

Other large scale developments include: the redevelopment of Hibernian House / Hibernian Corner / Nassau House on the corner of Nassau Street and Dawson Street to provide large scale retail and office space; the repurposing of the former Central Bank site on Dame Street to provide a mix of offices, retail, cafés and restaurants; and, the completed Chatham & King retail development off Grafton Street. The introduction of a mix of retail, office, hotel and cafes and restaurants will have a significant impact on the visual and commercial heart of the city centre contributing to the daytime, evening and night time economy.

The leisure sector and personal care services have seen substantial growth in the city in the last 10 years. Cafés, restaurants, cinemas, gyms and personal grooming establishments etc. are making a significant contribution to the overall commercial functioning of the city during day, evening and night time.

Convenience retailing (supermarkets) has expanded significantly in all parts of Dublin City over the previous decade, helped by population growth and policy support in the two last development plans. In recent years, the inner city has seen the development of a significant number of new convenience stores particularly in the discount food store sector including at Brunswick Street, Cork Street and East Wall. This new convenience retail provision has provided greater consumer choice and competition and in many areas, and has had regeneration benefits and provided much needed neighbourhood scale retail provision.

The improvement of the public realm in the city centre is being addressed through the implementation of the City Council’s Public Realm Strategy (‘Your City - Your Space’, 2012), and area based public realm plans including:

  • the Grafton Street Quarter Public Realm Improvement Plan, 2013;
  • the ‘Heart of the City’ Public Realm Masterplan for the City Core 2016; and
  • the Temple Bar Public Realm Plan, 2016.

Focusing on densely used public spaces and the needs of pedestrians and cyclists, these plans set out guidance and priorities for the city centre for the next 10/15 years. Public realm improvements completed under the ‘Grafton Street Quarter Public Realm Improvement Plan’ include works to Grafton Street, Harry Street, Balfe Street, Chatham Street and Clarendon Street.

The City Centre Pedestrian Wayfinding Scheme provides essential local information (map panels and fingerposts) to help and encourage people to walk around and explore the city. This scheme continues to be expanded around the inner city and it extends to the Docklands, Phibsborough and Raheny. Infrastructure consists of map panel units and fingerposts, carrying c. 1,730 finger panel signs. Since 2016, as new destinations emerged in the city, additional finger panel signs and combined map panel units have been added to the wayfinding system.

The O’Connell Street and Grafton Street Areas of Special Planning Control (ASPCs) remain pivotal in ensuring that only suitable uses are permitted in the heart of the city. Updated Schemes of Special Planning Control were made for O’Connell Street in 2016 and for Grafton Street in 2019. These schemes allow Dublin City Council to specify development objectives for the preservation or enhancement of these areas. This will ensure the protection of the special and unique character of O’Connell Street and Grafton Street, which is intrinsically linked to specific retailers and uses.

A Shopfront Improvement Scheme was launched in 2015 for retail premises in the south western area of the city. Through financial assistance it has assisted a wide range of retailers, small business owners and community organisations to enhance their premises and improve the quality of some of the capital’s most historic streets and urban villages. This scheme has been rolled out to the Finglas / Ballymun area.

7.3      Challenges

The main challenges in protecting, developing and enhancing the city centre and the city’s urban villages are outlined below:

Revitalising and Developing the Resilience of the City Centre and the City’s Urban Centres Post-Covid-19

The Covid-19 Pandemic has had an unprecedented and seismic impact on Dublin’s economy with activity in retail, retail services, food and beverage, leisure, tourism and cultural sectors plummeting and businesses closing. A report by the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland – ‘Covid-19 Regional Economic analysis’, 2020, identified that Dublin City and suburbs exposure to the pandemic should be the lowest of all urban centres as its economic activities such as finance and ICT are capable of operating remotely. The city and suburbs, however, have the highest number (nationally) of commercial units operating in the sectors worst affected. Revitalising and developing the resilience of the city centre and the city’s urban centres post-Covid-19 is a huge challenge for the city.

The Changing Nature of Retail

The retail sector is undergoing change due to online retailing, technological change and changing consumer behaviour. There are now many more ways to shop (multi-channel) that do not require the shopper to visit an urban centre as shopping can be delivered to the home or work etc. Year-on-year growth in online retailing in Ireland has increased and this trend has accelerated during the pandemic. While large urban centres with attractions complementary to retail are likely to withstand the challenges of online shopping, the city’s smaller suburban centres are more likely to be impacted by these trends.

Competition from M50 Shopping Centres

The regional M50 shopping centres have solidified their position as regional shopping destinations within Dublin’s suburbs, displacing comparison retail focussed shopping trips that were once the exclusive remit of the city centre. Combined, these centres offer retail space on a par with the city centre and they continue to have active plans to expand. For the city centre to remain resilient and competitive it must attract these shoppers back to the city centre and recognise and respond to the appeal of shopping in a high quality car-free environment with a concentration of a range of appealing retail uses, as evidenced in Henry Street and Grafton Street.

Investment in Key Urban Villages

In the suburbs, there are challenges relating to the traditional street, the parade of local shops or older shopping centres that are no longer strongly competitive and have now to compete with the growing presence of convenience supermarkets and on-line retailing. Large scale retail led developments in many suburban centres approved pre the 2008 recession were not realised and retail development has contracted in many of the Key Urban Villages resulting in vacancy. Many of these centres remain underdeveloped and have capacity for consolidation and regeneration. Attracting appropriate uses / retail to these centres remains a challenge.  An opportunity presents itself to facilitate the incubation of indigenous craft, food production, local farmers markets and the sale of local produce and other local services that can contribute to the vibrancy and occupancy of the key urban villages’ retail core. 

Retrofitting the Public Realm to Realise Opportunities for Healthy Placemaking

De-cluttering and repurposing the public realm and rebalancing space in favour of pedestrians and cyclists will be required to ensure the city centre and the city’s urban centres support healthy placemaking. Investment in the public realm makes the city centre and Key Urban Villages more attractive and more accessible to all, with improved and widened paths, seating / rest spaces, tree planting and opportunities to linger.

Growing the Night Time Economy

There has been growing recognition of the role the night time sector plays / can play in the economy of cities. The development of a 24 hour city in Dublin City has the potential to draw more people into the city, thereby supporting other city centre uses and supporting job growth and the city’s economy. Tackling the perceived image of an unsafe night environment, however, in certain areas of the city, and issues such as the lack of night time public transport and the potential for conflict with other uses such as residential uses needs to be managed and addressed.

People walking on a narrow pedestrian street

7.4      The Strategic Approach

The following strategic approach will be taken to support and promote the city centre and the city’s urban villages and retail:

  • Align the retail hierarchy for the city to the settlement hierarchy of the core strategy in order to enhance and consolidate the city centre and to create mixed use, lively and vibrant urban villages and neighbourhoods throughout the city.
  • Place sustainability and climate resilience as the over-arching consideration in the development of the city centre and urban villages with a particular emphasis on healthy streets, active travel and public transport accessibility, building on the 15 minute city concept, the primacy of the city centre and the vitality and viability of existing and emerging centres.
  • Provide a vibrant mix of shopping, leisure, office and residential uses, third spaces and family friendly attractions in the city centre thereby, offering shoppers an experience and a depth of offer that attracts suburban shoppers / workers / tourist / students / residents to shop, socialise and spend time in the city centre.
  • Promote and consolidate the role of Key Urban Villages so that they provide for sustainable urban living, they serve the community / social / cultural / civic needs of the local communities in which they exist and a level of retail development commensurate to their catchment.
  • Promote and consolidate the role of urban villages and neighbourhood centres so that they can provide convenient and attractive access by walking and cycling to local goods and services needed on a day-to-day basis.
  • Recognise the importance of placemaking and an attractive public realm and its contribution to supporting city centre retail, enhanced pedestrian amenities and developing the city centre and urban villages as key destinations.
  • Place an emphasis on healthy place making in the city centre and in all urban centres with initiatives tailored towards making these centres better places to live and to visit.

7.5      Policies and Objectives

7.5.1  General Retail Policy

The Retail Planning Guidelines, 2012 set out the retail planning framework for retail development. In accordance with these guidelines, retail policy for the city must be informed by a multi-authority retail strategy which would set out the retail hierarchy for the region and which would set out retail floorspace requirements for different settlements under the hierarchy. The existing 2008 – 2016 Retail Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area is considered out of date and a new multi-authority strategy for the region is required.

In the interim, the Regional Spatial Economic Strategy (RSES), for the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly, 2019 sets out a retail hierarchy for the Eastern and Midland Region and it states that it will support and drive the preparation of a new retail strategy for the region.

For the purposes of this development plan and pending the preparation of a new retail strategy for the Region, a ‘Retail Strategy’ has been prepared for this development plan and this is set out in Appendix 2 of this Plan.

This strategy outlines a retail hierarchy for the city comprising, in descending order, the city centre, Key Urban Villages, urban villages and neighbourhood centres and local shops. See Figure 7-1: Retail Strategy for the indicative locations of the city centre retail core, key urban villages and examples of urban villages.

Figure 7-1:      Retail Strategy


In line with the Retail Planning Guidelines, 2012, the DCC Retail Strategy seeks to promote town centre vitality through the sequential approach to development. New retail development should relate to this retail hierarchy and it should located in the designated centre and be of a scale compatible with the function and capacity of the centre (see Section 6.0 of the Retail Strategy).

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Retail Planning Guidelines

That future provision of retail development within the city will have regard to The Retail Planning Guidelines for Planning Authorities DECLG 2012. Dublin City Council will also have regard to these guidelines when preparing plans and in the assessment of retail-related planning applications.


Retail Hierarchy

To implement the retail hierarchy contained in the ‘Retail Strategy’ of this Development Plan and to support retail development at all settlement levels in the city. Retail development within the hierarchy of centres will be of a scale, type, and nature that reflects and enhances the role and function of the centre within which it is proposed as per the Retail Strategy, Appendix 2.


Sequential Approach

To promote city centre and urban village vitality through the sequential approach to retail development, enable good quality development in appropriate locations, facilitate modal shift and to deliver quality design outcomes.


The Role of Retail

To promote and support the major contribution of retail and retail services to the vitality and success of the city, as a significant source of employment, a focus of tourism, as an important recreational activity and as a link with other cultural, recreational and community activities.


Retail Design Brief

To require that proposed retail developments for large-scale or sensitive sites are accompanied by a retail design brief guided by the key principles contained in the ‘Retail Design Manual – DECLG, 2012’.


Large Scale Retail / Mixed Use Developments

To ensure that large scale retail / mixed use development proposals match the capacity of existing and planned public transport; provide good quality street environments to provide safer and more attractive settings for people to shop / do business; and incorporate cycle and pedestrian friendly designs in line with the Retail Design Manual 2012.


Variety in Shopping Offer

Development proposals for major new retail and complementary developments will be expected to provide a range of unit sizes to encourage variety in the shopping offer and support small business growth.


Competition and Innovation

To promote and facilitate competition and innovation in the retail sector to the benefit of the consumer, as an integral part of the proper planning and sustainable development of the city.


Independent Retailing

To support the independent retailing sector by continuing to provide financial support, skills training and education through the Local Enterprise Office and other means.


Specialist Shops

To acknowledge the unique attraction/distinctiveness of specialist shops / independent / indigenous retail in the city centre and inner city which contribute to the character and attractiveness of the city centre.


Omni-Channel Retail

To promote and support ‘Click and Collect’ services which can reduce e-commerce deliveries and bring footfall to the city centre.


Shopfront Design

To require a high quality of design and finish for new and replacement shopfront, signage and advertising. Dublin City Council will actively promote the principles of good shopfront design as set out in Dublin City Council’s Shopfront Design Guidelines and Chapter 15.


Vacant Units

To promote the temporary use of vacant premises in order to reduce the level of vacancy on streets as this can compromise the vitality of urban centres. Temporary uses which can contribute to the economic, social and cultural vitality of the city centre and which allow public access will be encouraged (pending permanent occupancy).


Adult Shops, Betting Shops and Gaming Arcades

To seek to prohibit adult shops, betting shops and gaming arcades in proximity to residential areas, places of public worship and schools and to seek to prevent an excessive concentration of such uses having regard to the existing presence of such retail outlets in an area.

It is an Objective of Dublin City Council:


Support Preparation of New Retail Strategy for the Region

To support the preparation of a new retail strategy for the region in accordance with the requirements of the Retail Planning Guidelines 2012 and undertake a review of the Dublin City Development Plan Retail Strategy upon its completion.


Consultation with Adjoining Local Authorities

To co-operate and consult with adjoining local authorities regarding the impact of retail plans or schemes with particular regard to the potential for significant cross-boundary impacts on urban centres.


Monitoring / Review of Retail Floorspace Provision
  1. To monitor large retail permissions / provision and to review changes in population targets that may be carried out during the lifetime of the Plan in order to identify any retail policy adjustments required.
  2. To carry out a comprehensive review of retail floorspace in the city centre and Key Urban Villages.

7.5.2  Primacy of the City Centre and Retail Core Area

Dublin City Centre serves as the pre-eminent shopping, business, cultural and leisure destination in the state. To ensure the long-term sustainability, viability and vitality of the city centre, it is important that it can adapt to changing consumer demands and behaviour, changing work patterns and the challenges posed by online retailing.

To attract shoppers and visitors and people to live in the city centre, a vibrant mix of city centre experiences will be required. A ‘strategy to support the city centre retail core’ is set out in Section 8.0 of the DCC Retail Strategy in Appendix 2. This sets out measures to improve the vibrancy, liveability and competitiveness of the city centre; envisioning vibrant shopping streets, a city of events, markets, family leisure, a 24 hour city, a city for homes, expanded and improved public spaces, new and upgraded pedestrian / cycle routes, and integrated public transport.

The premier shopping streets in the city centre retail core are designated as Category 1 and Category 2 shopping streets. The land use criteria for Category 1 and 2 streets are set out in the Retail Strategy, Appendix 2 and their locations are shown on Figure 7-2: Dublin City Centre Retail Core, Principal Shopping Streets.


Figure 7.2:       Dublin City Centre Retail Core, Principal Shopping Streets

The purpose of the Category 1 designation is to protect the primary retail function of these streets with an emphasis on higher order comparison retail. The purpose of the Category 2 designation is to provide for a mix of retail and other complementary uses which will increase shopper dwell time in the city.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Premier Shopping Area

To affirm and maintain the status of the city centre retail core as the premier shopping area in the State, affording a variety of shopping, cultural and leisure attractions. In line with the Retail Planning Guidelines, 2012, the city centre should be the main focus for higher order comparison retail in the city to protect its retailing role and primacy.


Category 1 and Category 2 Streets

To protect the primary retail function of Category 1 Streets in the city and to provide for a mix of retail and other complementary on Category 2 streets. To promote active uses at street level on the principal shopping streets in the city centre retail core having regard to the criteria for Category 1 and Category 2 streets (see Appendix 2 and Figure 7.2 ).


Diversifying the City Centre

To ensure the resilience of Dublin City Centre to changing trends in retail demand, appropriate opportunities to further diversify the city centre as a place to live, work and socialise will be encouraged.


Residential Development

To encourage, support and promote more residential apartments as part of mixed-use developments or through the reuse / retrofit of the upper floors of existing buildings. The use of upper floors for residential use is supported in principle on Category 2 Shopping Streets.


Parking and the Retail Core

To support the re-use and replacement of car parks in the centre of the retail core and to safeguard short term car parking provision for shoppers and visitors at the periphery of the retail core. The redevelopment of central car parks will support public realm improvements and pedestrian priority in the retail core.

It is an Objective of Dublin City Council:



To support Dublin’s Business Improvement District (BID) - ‘WeareDublinTown’ / ‘DublinTown’ and to acknowledge the role and facilitate the work of ‘DublinTown’ which includes the provision of additional City Centre services and projects to improve the city centre.


Underutilised and Inactive City Centre Streets

To reactivate the underutilised and inactive city centre streets and lanes in the city centre through the inclusion of art, landscaping, street furniture, outdoor dining, activity spaces and residential uses.


Car Parks and Last Mile Delivery

To investigate the potential of the use of car parks in the city centre for micro hubs and distribution centres for ‘last-mile’ delivery as part of the preparation of a Servicing / Logistics Strategy for the city (see also Objective SMT06).


Marketing the City Centre

To actively market the city centre to prospective international retailers. Dublin City Council will seek to work with Dublin Chamber and other relevant city centre stakeholders to benchmark Dublin internationally in order to attract new retailers and to retain its function as a prestigious centre of retail.


Review of Architectural Conservation Areas / Areas of Special Planning Control

To review the Architectural Conservation Areas (ACAs) pertaining to the retail core so that they reflect the approach for Category 2 Streets with particular regard to complementary non-retail uses. To prepare / update Areas of Special Planning Control for the city as and where appropriate and necessary.

7.5.3  Key Urban Villages, Urban Villages and Neighbourhood Centres

The city’s Key Urban Villages, urban villages and neighbourhood centres have their own identity and sense of place and allow all parts of the city to access a wider variety of commercial, community, social and cultural services locally. These centres support the concept of the 15 minute city whereby people’s daily requirements can be reached within 15 minutes by foot, bike or public transport.

Key Urban Villages

Key Urban Villages are the top tier of urban centre outside the city centre (see Chapter 2: Core Strategy) and are the primary location for commercial activity outside of the city centre. There are 12 Key Urban Villages in the city and their location is shown on Figure 7.1 and their geographical extent is shown on Map K of the development plan.

Key Urban Villages are mixed use centres which support the many varied and diverse aspects of community life. They are normally based around high quality public transport or they fulfil a regeneration role. The development / consolidation / regeneration of Key Urban Villages with high density mixed use development and residential led intensification will be supported. This will bring these centres into more intensive and efficient use thereby supporting their placemaking functions as social gathering places and areas of concentrated vibrancy and diversity which in turn will support existing services and improve the viability of existing and planned public transport, as well as meeting housing demand. General development principles for Key Urban Villages are set out in Chapter 14, Section 14.7.4.

Key Urban Villages function to serve the needs of the local communities in which they exist providing an important local retail, service, community and employment role. Their catchment is wider than those served by urban villages and neighbourhood centres.

To develop sustainably, Key Urban Villages will need to diversify in response to current and future economic trends, technological advances, and consumer behaviours and attain a viable and varied range of functions to serve their communities. Key Urban Villages must develop a diverse range of commercial and community uses including convenience retailing, leisure (including cafés and restaurants), social infrastructure, cultural uses, night time economy uses, civic functions, and local employment / co-working hubs.

In line with national retail planning policy, it is envisaged that retail development in Key Urban Villages will be commensurate to their catchment. Guiding principles regarding the scale of retail development to be promoted in each Key Urban Village over the plan period is set out in Table 3 in Retail Strategy (Appendix 2).

The development of high quality urban environments in Key Urban Villages is essential so that they are places where people want to live and so that they become attractive destinations which can be accessed by walking, cycling and public transport. Urban Framework Plans with guiding principles have been prepared for a number of the Key Urban Villages to enable these centres to develop their own distinct spatial and cultural identity (see Chapter 13).

Chapter 2, containing the Core Strategy of the development plan, identifies a number of Key Urban Villages for which, either a Local Area Plan (LAP) or Village Improvement Plan (VIP) or Local Environmental Improvement Plan (LEIP), as appropriate will be prepared, subject to resources. It is envisaged that public realm / placemaking strategies will be formulated as part of the preparation of these plans.

Urban Villages and Neighbourhood Centres

Dublin City is a city of neighbourhoods and these neighbourhoods are well served by local facilities ranging from medium sized shopping centres such as Artane Castle and the Merrion Shopping Centre to the more traditional villages such as Drumcondra and Ranelagh and to Neighbourhood Centres which often comprise local shopping parades and corner shops.

These urban villages and neighbourhood centres have an important role to play in the creation of sustainable neighbourhoods in both the established urban villages and in developing areas. Their focus will be on providing convenient and attractive access by walking and cycling to local goods and services needed on a day-to-day basis. This will become more important as the city’s population increases, requiring quality services at a local level in line with the Core Strategy.

Chapter 2: Core Strategy, identifies a number of urban villages which are to be subject to Village Improvement Plan (VIPs) or Local Environmental Improvement Plans (LEIPs) to be prepared for these centres, as resources permit (see Chapter 2: Core Strategy).

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Mixed Use Key Urban Villages/Urban Villages

To support the development, regeneration and or consolidation of Key Urban Villages/urban villages as appropriate, to ensure these centres continue to develop their mixed used role and function adding vitality to these centres including through the provision of residential development.


Scale of Retail Development in Key Urban Villages/Urban Villages

To have regard to the guiding principles regarding the scale of retail development to be promoted in each Key Urban Village as set out in the Dublin City Retail Strategy in Appendix 2.



To support and promote the redevelopment and intensification of underutilised sites within Key Urban Villages and urban villages including surface car parks.


Active Uses

To promote active uses at street level in Key Urban Villages and urban villages and neighbourhood centres.


Co - Working Hubs

To support the development of ‘Hub’ workspaces as part of new mixed new developments in Key District Centres and urban villages.


Neighbourhood Centres / Local Shopping

To support, promote and protect Neighbourhood and Local Centres which play an important role in the local shopping role for residents and provide a range of essential day to day services and facilities.


New Growth Areas

To support and facilitate local shopping and retail services commensurate with new residential areas to provide day to day and top up shopping needs.

It is an Objective of Dublin City Council:


Town Centre Health Check

To progress ‘Health Check Assessments’ for older suburban Key Urban Villages, as part of Local Area Plans and Village Improvement Plans in order to ensure the vitality and viability of these centres, assessing issues such as attractions, accessibility, amenity and actions to be taken.


Shopfront Improvement Scheme

To support the roll out of the Shop Front Improvement Scheme to the urban villages and radial streets in city centre subject to a criteria based analysis, available resources and funding availability.

7.5.4  Convenience and Retail Service Shopping

The provision of good quality convenience and retail service shopping to cater for daily shopping needs plays an important role in ensuring viable sustainable neighbourhoods where convenience retail and local services are within easy walking distance for residents. Convenience retailing (supermarkets) has expanded significantly in Dublin City over the last 10 years helped by population growth and policy support in the last development plan, specifically in the inner city. Many convenience operators have notably adapted their store model to suit urban / city centre sites with no car parking in some cases.

This new convenience retail provision has provided greater consumer choice and competition and in many areas, has had regeneration benefits and provided much needed neighbourhood scale retail provision.

Balanced with this, is the need for a managed approach to off-licence sales within the city centre retail core in order to ensure there is not an over concentration of such units in any one area, including units that form a subsidiary use within a convenience outlet. The advertising of alcohol is controlled under the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018. Further guidance on off licence development is set out in Section 15.14.8, Chapter 15.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Provision of Convenience Retail

To promote convenience retail development in the city, particularly in new regeneration areas and where such development can provide an important anchor to secure the vitality and viability of Key Urban Villages, urban villages and neighbourhood centres.


Provision of Retail Services

To support and promote the development of retail service development at all levels of the retail hierarchy in the city.

7.5.5  Retail Warehouse Parks / Retail Warehouses

Retail Warehouse Parks and Retail Warehouses are typically located in suburban locations due to the need for car parking facilities and ease of servicing. Due to the growth of this out-of-town retail format in the early 2000’s and the impact of these developments on town centres, the ‘Guidelines for Planning Authorities – Retail Planning – 2012, DECLG’ states that in general there should be a presumption against the further development of out-of-town retail parks.

There is limited provision of this retail format in the city; retail warehouse space has contracted in the city with sites being redeveloped for high intensity mixed use development or due to a change of use, all as part of the compact city approach. Further guidance on retail warehouse development is set out in the Retail Strategy in Appendix 2.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Retail Warehousing and Retail Parks

To control the provision of retail warehousing and retail parks in accordance with the advice set out in the ‘Guidelines for Planning Authorities – Retail Planning – 2012, DECLG’.

7.5.6  Food and Beverage Sector / Markets

Dublin City has a huge range of food and drink establishments. They play a vital role in supporting the visitor economy (day and evening), providing local employment opportunities and contributing to the city’s vitality.

Indoor and street based markets such as Georges Street Arcade, Moore Street, the Temple Bar Book and Food Market and the Designer Market on Cows Lane along with Farmers Markets add vibrancy, diversity and interest to the city as well as supporting local produce/enterprise. Proposals for markets that encourage smaller and independent retailers will be supported and encouraged. Such proposals will generally be directed to urban centres to support the existing retail offer.

The proposed redevelopment of the Victorian Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market on Mary’s Lane and a regenerated Iveagh Market and Moore Street Market, have the potential to provide major visitor attractions in the city as well as new local amenities for the communities that they serve.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Cafés / Restaurants

To promote and facilitate the provision of cafés / restaurants in the city and support their role in making the city more attractive for residents, workers, and visitors and in creating employment.


Food and Beverage Clusters

To support emerging food and beverage clusters around the city centre; see Figure 4, Appendix 2, particularly around the Henry Street and Westmoreland Street areas of the city to enhance the appeal of the north and south retail cores.


Outdoor Dining

Proposals for outdoor dining / trading from premises extending into the street will be supported where they would not harm local amenity or compromise pedestrian movement, accessibility needs or traffic conditions.


Support for Markets

To facilitate indoor and outdoor markets both in the city centre and throughout the city particularly where they support the existing retail offer and local produce/start up enterprise and the circular economy; and to realise their potential as a tourist attraction.


Moore Street Market

To recognise the unique importance of Moore Street Market to the history and culture of the city and to ensure its protection, renewal and enhancement in cooperation with the traders.

It is an Objective of Dublin City Council:


Victorian Fruit and Vegetable Market

To promote and facilitate the ongoing implementation of the City Markets Project, centred around the Victorian Fruit and Vegetable Market on Mary’s Lane, an important aspect in city centre regeneration. See also SDRA 13, Chapter 13.


Iveagh Market

To support a regenerated Iveagh Market as a major visitor attraction and as a local amenity for the community and to ensure that regeneration proposals include an appropriate community/civic space.

7.5.7  Evening and Night Time Economy

The evening and night time economy refers to social, cultural and economic activity occurring between specified night time hours. There has been growing recognition of the role the night time sector plays / can play in the economy of international cities. Evening and night-time economy uses  comprise a wide range of uses including restaurants, pubs, cinemas, dance and music venues and theatres along with not for profit community spaces or third places. Evening and night-time economy uses contribute to the vitality and vibrancy of the city centre and contributes positively to the visitor experience and local economy.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Night Time Economy

To support and facilitate evening / night time economy uses that contribute to the vitality of the city centre and that support the creation of a safe, balanced and socially inclusive evening / night time economy.


New Development

To support uses that would result in the diversification of the evening and night time economy where there is little impact on the amenity of adjoining or adjacent residential uses through noise disturbance and where there are no negative cumulative impacts in terms of other night-time economy uses in the area.

7.5.8  Public Realm

The public realm generally refers to all the areas to which the public has access such as roads, streets, footpaths, lanes, parks, squares, open spaces and building façades.

The public realm plays an important role in how Dublin’s urban centres functions; it comprises the spaces that people move through in their daily lives and spaces for recreation, social contact and civic engagement. The quality of the public realm affects how people experience and perceive the city in terms of its attractiveness as a place to live, work and visit as well as influencing a range of health, wellbeing and social factors. The quality of the public realm is, therefore, vital to the liveability and health of the city and to its economic success.

Dublin City Council, through its own projects and through its works with infrastructure providers and developers is working to provide a city wide public realm that is distinctive, attractive, safe, accessible, inclusive and well connected.

Public realm projects in the city centre are guided by the Dublin City Public Realm Strategy ‘Your City Your Space’ 2012, which sets out guiding principles to support the delivery of a quality public realm which is safe and easy to navigate. It is the Council’s intention to review the existing the Public Realm Strategy within the development plan period and to prepare a citywide strategy for a coordinated approach to delivering and managing the public realm.

A quality public realm will deliver / provide:

Quality Urban Design: Good urban design principles should be integrated into the layout and design of new development in line with the Departmental Guidelines ‘Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas’, 2009 and the ‘Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets, 2012 (DMURS). This is to ensure that the design of the public realm will make attractive places and will positively contribute to the wider objectives of the development plan of creating green, healthy and successful places.

A Sense of Place: All spaces should be carefully designed and be appropriate to their context, character and location and should provide/reinforce a sense of place.

Connections: The public realm should be legible, connected and permeable and designed to encourage people to walk and cycle to their destinations (schools, shops, work, playgrounds etc.) and to easily access public transport. This will encourage and enable people to be physically active in their daily lives.

Comfort: The public realm should be highly accessible and inclusive, designed for the comfort and ease of movement of people. A particular priority must be given to the needs of pedestrians and this would include the need to give pedestrians more space in the public realm / the need to expand the pedestrian network. There should be a special focus on the needs of disabled people and the difficulties they face in negotiating the city, and on the elderly, those with dementia, women, children and others with particular mobility requirements. The design of the public realm should be guided by universal design principles and regard should be had to the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, 2018 and gender proofing.

Sociable Spaces: A quality public realm will provide opportunities for people to meet, congregate and socialise, as well as providing opportunities for quiet enjoyment thereby significantly enhancing the public’s experience of the urban environment. These spaces can range from large civic spaces to micro parks, pop up parks and opportunities for lingering / play.

Safety: The public realm must be carefully managed and maintained. It should be decluttered and deter anti-social behaviour and crime to ensure people feel safe. Adjacent buildings should activate, animate and overlook the public realm thereby making the spaces more attractive and providing a sense of security to people using the space / passing through.

High Quality Materials: Spaces must be carefully designed, using high quality materials and detailing which respect and enhance the existing character of areas within the city. Landscape treatment, planting, street furniture and surface materials should be of good quality, fit-for-purpose, durable and sustainable.

Green Infrastructure: Urban greening features / green infrastructure should form part of all places and streets for visual amenity and climate resilience purposes. This will include the provision of street trees, green roofs, green walls and nature based solutions for sustainable drainage systems (SuDs).

Civic Amenities: The installation of seating will be encouraged in the public realm in the city where it adds to the peaceful enjoyment of the public realm. The installation of civic amenities such as public toilets and water fountains can provide important facilities for residents, workers and visitors and will be encouraged.

The City Council will continue to develop public realm strategies and to invest in the urban environment.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Plan Active and Healthy Streets

To promote the development of a network of active, healthy, attractive, high quality, green, and safe streets and public spaces which are inviting, pedestrian friendly and easily navigable. The aspiration is to encourage walking as the preferred means of movement between buildings and activities in the city. In the case of pedestrian movement within major developments, the creation of a public street is preferable to an enclosed arcade or other passageway.


High Quality Streets and Spaces

To promote the development of high-quality streets and public spaces which are accessible and inclusive in accordance with the principles of universal design, and which deliver vibrant, attractive, accessible and safe places and meet the needs of the city’s diverse communities regardless of age, ability, disability or gender.


Permeable, Legible and Connected Public Realm

To deliver a permeable, legible and connected public realm that contributes to the delivery of other key objectives of this development plan namely active travel and sustainable movement, quality urban design, healthy placemaking and green infrastructure.


Public Safety

To promote the development of a built environment and public spaces which are designed to deter crime and anti-social behaviour and which promote safety, as set out in the ‘Your City Your Space’ Public Realm Strategy 2012.


New Infrastructure Development

Infrastructure projects in Dublin City should ensure placemaking outcomes through a design-led approach. Dublin City Council will work the relevant agencies / infrastructure providers to achieve public realm enhancements in the design, implementation and delivery of infrastructure projects.


Public Realm - Key Urban Villages/Urban Villages

To provide environmental and public realm improvements in Key Urban Villages and urban villages around the city through the implementation of Local Environment Improvement Plans / Village Improvement Plans and Placemaking Strategies in order to support the regeneration and revitalisation of the city’s urban villages. Such plans:

  1. will identify opportunities for micro spaces (small spaces to facilitate lingering and social, community and cultural interaction and events); and
  2. will be informed by walkability exercises led by older people, parents, visually impaired and people with disabilities, to make city outdoor spaces more accessible and safe for all, creating walkable communities and age friendly spaces.


New Development

That development proposals should deliver a high quality public realm which is well designed, clutter-free, with use of high quality and durable materials and green infrastructure. New development should create linkages and connections and improve accessibility.

It is an Objective of Dublin City Council:


Civic Spine / College Green

To implement a programme of environmental and public realm improvements along the Grand Civic Spine from Parnell Square to Christchurch Place and along the city quays, and to prioritise the redevelopment of College Green as a pedestrian friendly civic space including the pedestrianisation of Foster Place.


City Centre Public Realm Strategy

To support the review / update of the City Council’s City Centre Public Realm Strategy - ‘Your City Your Space’ Public Realm Strategy 2012’ and apply it for new / redevelopment public realm work throughout the Dublin City Council administrative area. The new Public Realm Strategy will adopt / provide for:

  1. gender and age proofing of public realm projects;
  2. investment in / the use of assistive technology for vulnerable users of the public realm;
  3. good practice models in facilitating mobility aids, including scooters in the public realm; and
  4. good practice model of public seating for older people with mobility issues.


Public Realm Plans / Masterplans

To support the implementation of the following public realm plans / masterplans (listed below) and companion manuals:

  • ‘The Heart of the City’ Public Realm Masterplan for the City Core 2016;
  • Grafton Street Quarter Public Realm Improvement Plan, 2013;
  • Public Realm Masterplan for the North Lotts & Grand Canal Dock SDZ Planning Scheme 2014;
  • Temple Bar Public Realm Plan 2016; and
  • Markets Area Public Realm Plan 2021.


Improve Links North / South

To improve North / South links between Grafton Street and Henry Street Shopping areas through the implementation of the ‘‘The Heart of the City’ Public Realm Masterplan for the City Core 2016.


Streets and Lanes Dublin 1

To work with city stakeholders including local businesses, and the BIDs group ‘WeAreDublintown’ to implement a number of public realm projects arising from the Re-Imagining Dublin One study and to extend best practice from these projects to other parts of Dublin 1 and the city. This includes the North Lotts Planning Study and the ‘Reimagining Dublin One Laneways’ project.


Linking Office and Culture Clusters to the Retail Core

To devise a programme to enhance pedestrian amenities, encourage more street based activities and provide micro spaces along key routes from office and culture clusters to the retail core to enhance the vibrancy of the streetscape and to draw office workers and tourists into the retail core.


Civic Amenities
  1. To work with city business associations and agencies to provide for appropriately located, independently accessible sanitary facilities (public toilets, changing areas, showers and wash facilities etc.) for the use of citizens and visitors to the city and accessible to all.
  2. To provide civic amenities such as accessible public toilet facilities and drinking water at suitable locations in new or redeveloped public realm.
  3. To provide public seating based on universal design in appropriate locations in the public realm in the city. Seating for older people with mobility issues will be based on international models of good practice.

7.5.9  Outdoor Advertising Strategy

A strategy has been developed for commercial advertising in the public domain (Appendix 17). This strategy forms the basis of a practical policy to be applied to all proposals for outdoor advertising.

This strategy is based on an analysis of how sensitive different parts of the city are to advertisement structures and identifies constraints and opportunities for the location of these structures. It also sets out what types of structures are acceptable as outdoor advertising elements. While commercial viability is a key consideration, it has been balanced with the need to create a high quality public domain and to safeguard and enhance sensitive areas and sites.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Advertising Structures

To consider appropriately designed and located advertising structures primarily with reference to the zoning objectives and permitted advertising uses and of the outdoor advertising strategy (Appendix 17). In all such cases, the structures must be of high-quality design and materials, and must not obstruct or endanger road users or pedestrians, nor impede free pedestrian movement and accessibility of the footpath or roadway.


Removal of Unauthorised Advertisements

To actively seek the removal of unauthorised advertisements, fabric banners, meshes, banner or other advertising forms from private property and public areas.

It is an Objective of Dublin City Council:


Audit of Redundant Signage

It is an objective of the city council to carry out an audit of redundant signage and unused poles in the public realm in order to reduce street clutter and to investigate measures to promote co-sharing and integration with other street furniture elements.

7.5.10 Pedestrian Wayfinding System

Clear directional signs are an essential element in helping people to locate the many attractions of the city along the most appropriate route in a safe and efficient manner. Dublin City Council has implemented a pedestrian wayfinding system, located at street intersections, which has been designed to help the pedestrian to move around the city and to find destinations easily. The emphasis of the system is on key quarters, streets, cultural and tourist attractions, public institutions, public parks and major leisure/ recreational event spaces, rather than commercial services.

This comprehensive network of directional signage significantly enhances legibility in the urban environment, and in particular, improves the visitor experience of the city.

It is the Policy of Dublin City Council:


Pedestrian Wayfinding Signage System

To maintain, consolidate and expand the Pedestrian Wayfinding System; to ensure a coherent design approach in the area between the canals and Docklands; and to actively remove redundant brown tourist signage as the opportunity arises. The provision of new brown tourist signage will not be supported in the area between the canals and Docklands.

It is an Objective of Dublin City Council:


Manage Pedestrian Wayfinding System

To manage the Pedestrian Wayfinding System in consultation with relevant Governments Departments, state agencies (e.g. Fáilte Ireland, Transport Infrastructure Ireland), national cultural institutions and other civic interests in order to ensure the provision of appropriate signage for the principal places of interest in the city.

Aerial view of roads

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7: The City Urban Villages and Retail 7.4 Strategic Approach and 7.5 policies and objectives KIN support strategic approach to promote and...