The owners of Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre applied just before Christmas for permission to redesign the outside of their building and re-arrange the shop-floors inside.

This is in preparation for the arrival of two large new retailers to the centre. The latest rumour is that one of these will be TK Maxx. This week I copied the plans and in this post I’ll show you what the owners intend to do.

You can make a submission on these plans to the council planning office or let me know in the comments below what you think.

Changes to the exterior

Clearly Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre is one of the ugliest buildings ever constructed in the county so any kind of reconstructive surgery will be given the benefit of the doubt – the more radical, the better. Marine Road has been particularly blighted not just by the shopping centre but also by the brutalist St Michael’s Church on the opposite side.  The fashion of the period left us with two major public structures in our town centre that resemble a prison and an abattoir.

Marine Road chasm
Marine Road chasm between St Michael’s Church and Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre


Proposed new elevation from Marine Road
Proposed new elevation from Marine Road

So above you can see the start of the  planned changes to the side along Marine Road.  Eason’s newsagent is on the left of this photo as we look up the hill of Marine Road towards George’s Street.

This is the corner of the Shopping Centre where Farrell’s pub is located. The plan is that this pub and the neighbouring shops on the third and second floor would be replaced by one large retailer.

Shopping Centre Marine Road elevation
Proposed Shopping Centre Marine Road elevation

Above, you can see that the owners plan to add more glazing to the Marine Road elevation, covering some of the vast brown brick expanses that grace its 1970s facade. (Click on any of these images for a close up)

Shopping Centre Georges Street view
Proposed Shopping Centre Georges Street view
Shopping Centre Georges Street entrance
Proposed Shopping Centre Georges Street entrance

The facade along George’s Street will also have more glazing attached and a higher entrance porch where the newspaper sellers have their stall.

Changes to the interior

Following a recent refit, the interior of the shopping centre really doesn’t look too bad.

Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre Interior
Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre Interior

The problem is the incomplete range of shops, and the lack of an anchor tenant or a department store. I counted 35 vacant units and everyone expects that the owners were clearing out tenants in preparation for the arrival of some new mega-shop.

The proposal is to place a new anchor tenant in a space created by merging a number of units on Level 3 and linked with other merged units on Level 2.  These would open onto George’s Street, beside AIB. A second, medium-sized retailer will be located on levels 2 and 3 at the North end of Marine Road.  Here are the proposed floor plans

Shopping Centre - Level 2
Shopping Centre – Level 2
Shopping Centre - Level 3
Shopping Centre – Level 3

Will it work?

It may not go far enough. I’d certainly prefer if the facades could be entirely re-skinned or, failing that, at least if the bricks could be repainted to remove any trace of their awful brown hideousness.

If the new retailers can fill the gaps in Dún Laoghaire’s retail offering, then there is the potential to bring some shopping life back to the town.

On the other hand, the town currently seems oversupplied with a  selection of shops with weak trade and the addition of even more units aiming at the lower end of the market may not be the best option.

When I saw the planning application on the wall of the shopping centre, I had hoped that the owner had given up retailing and was planning to demolish the entire block and replace it with a large number of apartments.

The Snapper

The shopping centre had its heyday from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s, when it served as a social as well as a commercial hub.This was before the development of the Dundrum and Carrickmines centres.

Locals, including me, felt nostalgic and proud when the 1993 movie ‘The Snapper’ used the shopping centre as a location.

A short history

The Shopping Centre opened in 1976, replacing a large number of shops on Marine Road and Georges Street, and demolishing a  beautiful Regency row: Gresham Terrace.

Gresham Terrace, next to the Royal Marine Hotel

Gresham Terrace, next to the Royal Marine Hotel

Gresham Terrace was replaced with the barred windows of a multi-storey parking lot, so that the cars could take in the commanding view of Dublin Bay while their owners went shopping.

Below you can see the before and after photos of the corner of Gresham Terrace and Marine Road. I guess sometimes a society takes a step backwards and this is one such example.

Marine Road- Gresham Terrace junction
Marine Road- Gresham Terrace junction



The corner of Marine Road and George’s Street was also transformed:

Marine Rd - Georges St Before
Marine Rd – George’s St Before
Corner of Marine Road and George's Street After
Corner of Marine Road and George’s Street After

Notice that Ulster Bank remained in the same corner position after the shopping centre was constructed.

A photo from the 19th century of the same location:

Marine Road - George's Street 19th C
Marine Road – George’s Street 19th C

Why now and what happens next?

Until 2014, vacant commercial properties could obtain a full rates refund in Dún Laoghaire. This meant that a landlord could leave a shop empty for years, while contributing nothing to the town.   In the 2015 council budget, I voted with other councillors to charge 25% of the normal commercial rates on vacant properties. This meant that the owners of the shopping centre were faced with a large and ongoing charge so long as they left 35 units vacant.  Agents for the owners wrote to me to complain that they would have to reduce the rents.  So they now had an extra incentive to get the units rented out.

There is a period of five weeks for the public to make submissions on this planning application. I am going to support the internal reconfiguration but I will ask for a more ambitious redesign of the exterior.

The planning reference number for this application is D15A/0846


  1. Several black and white photos in this post were previously posted by Geraldine Manley and Tom Conlon in the “Dun Laoghaire Past and Present” Facebook group.
  2. The shopping centre is owned by a private, unlimited Irish company, Coltard. The directors of Coltard are Joseph Higgins and John Ryan. The property is managed by Murphy Mulhall
Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre revamp
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29 thoughts on “Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre revamp

  • January 1, 2016 at 1:01 pm


  • January 1, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks Ossian, very good post, especially for giving the proposed upgrade details and the photos of Dun Laoghaire before the shopping centre.

    We agree, it would be great if the shopping centre / church brutalist “chasm” on Marine Road could be re-modelled.

    As you say, the proposals may lessen the brick look somewhat but not very much. We don’t see how the proposed glazing improves things much at all for the street and some of the detailing actually makes things worse.

    The real problem though, as your view up Marine Road shows, is the continuous, chasm-causing, high vertical wall springing up at the pavement edge, Although a new wall finish might help to lose the unsightly cheap brick look, it wouldn’t help much in lessening the chasm.

    We would much rather see a shopping-centre demolition and complete rebuild with mixed apartments and ground-floor shopping with a much more respectful aspect to the pedestrian pavements, with a less cliff-like frontage. It’s hard to see how respecting the streets could be achieved from the current building without doing something drastic like taking off top floor altogether at the edge, or removing the complete building corner at Marine and Georges.

    It’s great that the charging of 25% rates on empty units has already had this effect. We’d like to see rates on occupied units go down while rates on unoccupied units increasingly ramp up beyond the 25% to 100% within a couple of years. This would increase the pressure on landlords to decrease rents and get tenants or else develop housing. The Dunnes block is a particularly irritating example of a landlord keeping shops unoccupied for over a decade now.

    We have not looked at the final draft County Plan for 2016-2022 but one thing that was missing was a strong plan for the core Marine Road area. The drab church surrounds, the empty Senior College, and the similarly derelict, old Christian Brothers school are as much in need of a complete make-over as the shopping centre. A pedestrian and cycling prioritised, open permeable design with a good density of (Passive House grade) apartments, shopping and open spaces and play area is much needed for the entire core of the town.

    Some bigger, gentler thinking is surely needed to achieve a much stronger and more inviting centre for Dun Laoghaire.

  • January 1, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    That shopping centre has always been a hideous eyesore. Better to pull it down and create an alfresco square. Restaurants, bars, live entertainment and cultural activities. Make the town stand out and draw residents and tourists in.

  • January 1, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks Ossian. Interesting reading about this especially nasty piece of architecture. A revamp would, I guess, be better, than keeping it the way it is, and better new tenants would be great. But really, the building is scaled and oriented so horribly that a revamp can’t do much: it’s too fundamentally wrong to ever be repaired. Then again, wouldn’t mind a TK Maxx…

  • January 2, 2016 at 12:12 am

    The owners of the shopping centre should consult with experienced retailers/ consultants and start by attracting 2 or 3 big named high street stores like H&M, Zara, top shop or the like, give them FREE rent for a few years. Their other units would fill up very quickly with other retailers wanting to locate close to big names, trade would grow organically. Revamping the centre is a good idea only if they have already secured quality retailers. Get good shops in and the people and other traders will follow. Council should give FREE parking for first 1-2 hrs. Look at dundrum they have a Mecca of shops and amazingly cheap parking. Carrikmines free parking and great shops and is a huge success. As a previous business owner and retailer in Dunlaoghaire for more then 12 years and a family business there for more then 20 years I feel knowledgeable enough on what might help grow business there again. Time and time again customers complained directly to me that the parking situation was terrible very expensive and shoppers were consistently penalized for coming to the town to shop , by parking attendants handing out tickets every chance they got. They used to work in teams hiding behind corners talking to fellow parking attendants on radio to catch out the car owners/shoppers at every opportunity. Shoppers were literally chased out of town by the parking attendants tactics and tickets. If the council gave free parking it would show the locals that they are serious about trying to rebuild the town and trade. A feeling of goodwill would follow and perhaps the shoppers might gradually begin to return.

  • January 2, 2016 at 12:48 am

    This is the first time I have looked at your website, it’s great and very informative on things going on in the area, keep up the good work! Also since my comment above I noticed from your site that you do have a proposal on the parking, ‘free after 3pm.’ A good idea but I don’t think it goes far enough. Give shoppers first 1-2 hours free parking. When they park they put a ticket on their car (from the machine) which shows time of their arrival. parking attendants monitor. Commuters can’t leave their cars all day as they will get a ticket when the 2hrs expires, fair enough for all. Lots of shoppers like to shop in the morning between the hours of 9am and 3pm (ie during school hours) not just after 3pm. Workers can’t shop after 3pm as they are at work. Just give free parking at all hours but limit it to 1-2 hours, parking can be paid for then if staying longer then the free parking period. At weekends people like to shop all day not just after 3pm. Cars/shoppers naturally rotate, the free parking in Carrickmines seems to work very well, why not DL.

  • January 2, 2016 at 1:02 am

    Thanks so much for your comments, Nicola.

  • January 2, 2016 at 8:12 am

    One of the mail problems with dun laorghaire is the high parking charges… It’s cheaper to go to dundrum or nutgrove than here. The council should address this too!!

  • January 2, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Re comments regarding free parking etc. Firstly imo, Dun Laoghaire is a town that was never designed to be a drive to, drive through destination like the retail giants such as Dundrum & Carrickmines. Dun Laoghaire is never going to have the car designed capacity, space nor infrastructure to compete with the likes of these places. So why try and compete.

    Dun Laoghaire is extremely well served with public transport and is located in an area where most of its citizens can reach it by walking, cycling, taking public transport and or driving. By continuously believing that Dun Laoghaire’s demise is due to car-parking charges etc, is actually preventing Dun Laogharire from moving forward. The focus should be on enhancing the charms of a town/village in comparison to the draws of a giant glitzy shopping centre.

    Shopping as we know it/knew it has changed. On-line shopping, out of town shopping in drive to destinations have grabbed a huge proportion of shoppers and this is not going to change by congesting our towns with free or highly reduced parking.

  • January 2, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Interesting post thanks.

    I agree with the poster above who says glazing will only marginally improve the cliff face effect and demolition is the most preferable option. I disagree that the RC church resembles an abbatoir – in fact I think it’s quite a successful building – despite a certain brutalist external appearance – it yields quite well to the surrounding streets – thanks largely to the plaza at the corner of Marine Road and George’s Street – what a pity this wasn’t replicated on the shopping centre side. There’s nothing quite like rounding that corner on a winter’s day when Marine Road is acting like a funnel for the freezing wind howling up from the harbour.

    I disagree with shopping centres in general – but those allowed in town centres are probably preferable to green field site centres that suck the life (and business) away from towns. However – allowing a second shopping centre in Dun Laoghaire (Tesco) was absolute madness – and it killed off most of the decent businesses that had managed to survive on George’s Street.

    Attracting decent anchor tenants and improving the appearance of the building is welcome news – but as someone said above – it simply doesn’t go far enough. The main street seems to decline in direct proportion to the improvements at the coast. It’s a tale of two cities – hummus in the park, heroin on the high street. Sonething somewhere went terribly wrong.

  • January 2, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    I am all for seeing Dun Laoghaire shopping center demolished & rebuilding on the site with a mix of units & lovely walk thru village feel. I don’t think the revamp is doing anything to take away the eyesore look of the building. In Molesworth St in town they are demolishing old seventies buildings & starting from scratch, not sure why same can’t be done in DL. It definitely needs some higher end anchor stores to pull people back in & while lots of parking in the area, they need to reduce it somewhat or do a free parking with spend over certain amount to encourage people back.

    Over Christmas shopping period I paid €2 for several hours of shopping in Dundrum. I paid a lot more than that to shop local in Dun Laoghaire. I would shop local more but just not much on offer.

    Seems all monies being spent on the seafront but not enough being done for the Main Street & retailers.

  • January 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    About time something was proposed we need life back into the town of Dun Laoghaire too many sore sights of closed shops, I work for one of the main retailers on the main street and have for 34 years seen many changes good & bad , our town is full of fast food shops & coffeehouses 1 poping up every other week . parking is our worse enemy that all people talk about run in and out of the shops as fast as the can so as not to get a ticket !!! When making changes please consider all avenues so as to make any proposals workable ,listen to all retailers still left in Dun Laoghaire and not just to those people sitting behind a desk looking at a building plan and know nothing about our town !!!

  • January 2, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    I agree with all of the above comments…………70’s shopping centre in an old town like Dun Laoghaire pure madness now. Forty years later we realise that. BTW the architect/planners etc should have been shot for designing not only the ugliest building but giving cars the sea view! Nuts. Pull it down. Th site crying out for a sympathetic and town like approach. Maybe too late as now we have apartments on Marine rd and of course, The Lexicon. DLRD pull yourselves together and stop tarting up the seafront, leaving the heart of the town to fester.

  • January 2, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    While I’m having a rant about the ghastly DL ‘shopping centre’ It’s no centre and very few shops………..why is there no Aldi in DLRD? There’s Sandyford D18, Bray WCC. Why not Glenageary roundabout?

  • January 2, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Hi Gilly,

    An ALDI is being built now in Sallynoggin on Pearse Street at the site of White and Delahunty Motors. The owner of the former Deer Hunter site on the Glenageary roundabout has permission to build a Lidl and a nursing home there. I expect ALDI will opne in a few months and that Lidl will be built this year.

    I wrote about this here:

  • January 2, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Having grown up in Blackrock in the 1960s/70s Dunlaoghaire was where we went to shop on a Saturday afternoon. There were so many shops then – that you were spoilt for choice. I never liked the shopping centre or Bloomfields so gave up going to Dunlaoghaire. I now find that I do most of my shopping for clothes in Debenhams in Blackrock. It saddens me that the Chambers of Commerce and County Council have done little to attract new business to Dunlaoghaire. Unless the owners of the shopping centre can attract top notch companies I wouldn’t bother wasting money on refurbishing this white elephant

  • January 2, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Rents and rates are far too high in Dun Laoghaire, thats a big problem in attracting new shops and something the council could easily address. As for for saying the parking rates dont affect the town, thats rubbish, it does. parking should be free all day Saturday at least. There is plenty of parking on the streets of DL up as far as Clarinda all the way down to the old Top Hat (which is free on a Saturday down there). There is good public transport but ultimately people like to drive. DLRCC seems to have endless money and thats the problem, they dont care about the town and whats in it. With the right shops in the town it could make a comeback, you never know

  • January 2, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks Ossian for keeping us up to date. Yes, it would be better to pull down the shopping centre, but will this really happen? There is a problem with narrow footpaths outside the shopping centre esp. around AIB entrance, this should be corrected in the revamp, pull the shopping centre entrance back giving a wider footpath. Would we be better to campaign for demolition rather than allow revamp to occur, TK Maxx to come in & then it’s too difficult to backtrack.
    I noted someone mentioned empty Senior College & Christian Brothers etc, why don’t the CC put it out there that there are vacant units suitable for education (or other) purposes & let people apply for use?
    Anyway, thanks Ossian

  • January 3, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    The revamp will be welcome along with attracting some key anchor stores. The biggest problem DL has is the parking costs that are anti commercial. So while it is great to see improvements happening there is more to do by the local govt to attract people back into the town

  • January 3, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    While your on the subject of Dun Laoghaire as a whole, Dun Laoghaire Harbour is just as bad. Along with the proposed Cruise Liners coming, there will be a large area beside the Marina that will sit un-used. The old HSS terminal, once a vibrant ferry terminal, now sits derelict. Yes there have been a few concerts and drive through cinemas, but is that the best you can come up with? Open the area up, add a couple of lines and space numbers. Boom you have a giant parking lot, 5 mins walk from the center of town. How has no one else seen this?

  • January 3, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    We should campaign for demolition and rebuilding in a more open continental vein – open plaza with a mix of retail and
    Entertainment /restaurants etc. Bringing big name stores to the town is not the answer in the short term, Dun Laoghaire was never a car friendly town and therefore Dundrum et al will always score.

  • January 3, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    The problems with Dun Laoghaire are as obvious as they are often-repeated; Rates, parking, the offensive waste of money on the “Lexicon”. Everyone keeps saying it.

    It’s such a pity because it’s a lovely town but the decision-makers seem so far removed from the reality of anyone actually trying to make a shop work around here, that it almost seems as if some members of DLRCC sit down every year and say “now… what else can we do to put people out of business?”

  • January 4, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for that interesting post, though I must disagree re St Michael’s Church – it is a fine building!

  • January 5, 2016 at 9:45 am

    I think it would be fantastic to see the shopping centre get a revamp I am not from Dunlaighaire myself my Mother is so remember getting the 45a bus out from Bray to DunLaoghaire as a child & shopping in Center at that time all the shops where opened there was always a lovely atmosphere now going out to Dunlaoghaire shopping Center it’s sad to see most of the shops closed . Dunlaoghaire is the next big town to Bray town & there was never any shopping Center or big name shops in Bray so it was always a treat to go to Dunlaoghaire. It would be fantastic to see the new uplift on the shopping Center & big retailers moving in . I’m hopping New Look will open a bigger shop in Dunlaoghaire 😉

  • January 5, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    I can’t think of a further waste of money, there are more units in the town empty because of rates and parking charges, sorry I don’t and won’t shop in Dun Laoghaire……..a lovely town destroyed by Councillers and the like……….as long as the people do not incur costs to this SC through rates etc, do want you want…….

  • January 12, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    I did read somewhere about a department store for the new shopping centre, and I think the department store should be Marks and Spencers as this would give the food department a chance to return to Dun Laoghaire because when it closed its doors a few years back many people were very sorry to see it go including myself.

  • February 22, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Looking at the photographs of the trams and old buildings is enough to make you weep. DLRCoCo is unfit for purpose and should be shut down, starting with the planning department. Shocking.

  • February 22, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks for all that information and history Ossian. Really enjoyed the old photos in particular. It’s shocking the beautiful old buildings that have been pulled down for bland “modern” replacements in Dun Laoghaire, the old Courthouse another example.
    I have unfortunately missed the submission deadline. So here are my comments in case they can still influence the development. I also think more housing in the form of apartments would be far better for the town, and probably lucrative for the developer. However if the plan is indeed to keep it as retail, the two large/medium anchor stores will help to keep the centre going. However one service that is badly missing from Dun Laoghaire is a FREE soft play area for kids under 10 yrs in particular. The Scotch Hall shopping centre in Drogheda has a brilliant & successful example of this
    While enterprising private centres offer this service with an entrance fee, we can’t always chill out in a cafe in order to let our kids play somewhere like this and we shouldn’t have to! A “Play Zone” means your kids can have a little bit of fun when you are doing the shopping, especially where it rains for nearly half the year! It will bring people with kids INTO the centre because it means less stress for everyone. With so many vacant units, this seems to be a win win idea for everyone.

  • June 6, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    The word Centre as in ‘Shopping Centre’ is correctly spelt ‘Centre’ we are Not in The U.S. Where every word is phonetically spelt.

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