Dublin City Council to move to reclaim Iveagh Markets

Hotelier Martin Keane’s planning permission granted in 2007 has run out

Dublin City Councillors have voted to pursue Temple Bar hotelier and publican Martin Keane to regain control of city's Edwardian Iveagh Markets.

Mr Keane has had planning permission since 2007 to redevelop the market on Francis Street in the Liberties, following a long-term lease deal agreed with the council in 1997.

That permission expired last month and councillors on Monday night voted to wrest control of the building from the businessman.

However, Mr Keane said he intends to apply for fresh planning permission and was “not going to walk away” from the project.

The Iveagh Markets were built early in the last century by the Guinness family to house street traders who had been displaced by the construction of the nearby Iveagh Trust housing development on Patrick Street, and they were handed over in trust to Dublin Corporation.

The building was split into two markets, a “dry” clothes market fronting on to Francis Street and a “wet market” to the rear, selling fish, fruit and vegetables, accessed from the entrance on John Dillon Street.

The corporation, now the city council, continued to operate the market throughout the 20th century, but by the 1980s it had become very rundown and it eventually closed in the 1990s.

In 1996, the council announced it was seeking a private developer to regenerate the market. The following year Mr Keane secured the tender, with an agreement that title of the market would transfer to him once the redevelopment was completed.

Ownership row

However, the development became mired in an ownership row between the corporation and the Guinness family-controlled Iveagh Trust. The dispute was not resolved until 2004. Mr Keane applied for planning permission, which was granted by An Bord Pleanála in 2007.

In 2012, he secured a five-year extension of planning permission, which has now expired, to redevelop the market, along with the former music venue Mother Redcaps, and a number of surrounding houses, as a hotel, restaurant and food market complex.

Under the terms of the resolution achieved in 2004, Mr Keane had 36 months from the agreement of the lease to complete the redevelopment work. However, it is understood the council did not invoke the clause because of property crash. Councillors have now decided to pursue Mr Keane using this clause.

However, speaking to The Irish Times recently, Mr Keane said he intended to lodge a new planning application by November and hoped to start work on the market early in the new year. The financial crisis and "delays caused by the council" had held up the development to date, he said.

“Anyone who thinks the council can just take the market doesn’t know what they are talking about. I would be seeking my costs, including lost opportunity costs and I would enter a lis pendens in the courts which effectively sterilises the property,” Mr Keane said. “This is an ‘over my dead body’ situation.”