Liffey Valley €135m expansion ‘wholly unsustainable’ – rival group

Consultants for The Square claim plan is based on ‘outdated 1980s-style mall template’

An empty Liffey Valley during last year’s Level 5 lockdown. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

An empty Liffey Valley during last year’s Level 5 lockdown. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

 

The planned €135 million expansion of Liffey Valley shopping centre in Dublin “is wholly unsustainable”, planning consultants acting for The Square in Tallaght have warned in an appeal against permission for the project.

The consultants said the plan represented “a continuation of an outdated car-based 1980s-style mall template”.

The Square Management Ltd’s appeal against South Dublin County Council’s decision to allow the large extension has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála.

Liffey Valley owner, US investment group Hines, is planning a mixed leisure, entertainment and retail extension to the shopping centre that is to be centred on a large public plaza, creating a new east-west street at the centre.

The proposed extension is to be anchored by two large retail units on either side of the plaza.

A retail impact assessment lodged with the planning application stated that the extension would deliver an additional €128.65 million in retail revenues for the Liffey Valley centre by 2025.

However, in The Square Management’s appeal, consultants Downey Planning state the model being pursued by Hines for Liffey Valley was “no longer being followed in Europe due to the often devastating social, environmental and economic impacts on surrounding towns”.

‘Staggering’

Downey Planning contends that the proposed extension “offers a staggering amount of new retail floorspace and the total will be over 120,000sq m compared with just over 22,000sq m” when Liffey Valley was first built in 1997.

The consultants say the expansion “is beyond a scale ever seen before in the State for an out-of-town development”.

They claim that even before the extension, Liffey Valley had more floorspace than Dundrum Town Centre, the Blanchardstown Centre and The Square which had 34,000sq m in retail space.

Hines manages the centre for its German pension fund owner, Bayerische Versorgungskammer, which purchased Liffey Valley and adjacent land in 2016 for more than €630 million.

Planning consultants for Hines, Avison Young, have stated that the application “will not only deliver significant improvements to the offer and operation of the Liffey Valley centre, it will also completely alter the role of the centre by providing a focal point for the community and greatly enhance the visitor experience”.

An Bord Pleanála rejected plans for a previous major extension in February 2017, due mainly to the impact the proposal would have on the local road network. South Dublin County Council’s planning assessment of the new application stated that Hines had addressed the reason for refusal by the appeals board in the previous application.

A decision on the appeal is due in September.