College Green plaza development costs set to soar as council advertises €10m design contract

Figure of €10m for pedestrianised area in city centre originally projected for both the design and construction phases

The cost of developing a civic plaza for Dublin’s College Green is set to soar, with Dublin City Council advertising a €10 million contract for its design, which does not cover construction costs.

The previous plans for the pedestrian and cycle plaza, submitted to An Bord Pleanála in 2017, were given an estimated cost of €10 million by the council. However, this figure was to cover both the design and construction of the scheme.

The new tender advertised this week by the council will cover only its design, with an indicative value of €10 million, excluding VAT. The construction contract will be advertised later by “a separate tender competition”, the council said.

The new tender covers a larger area than the plaza designed six years ago by a team lead by Paul Keogh Architects. Those plans, rejected by An Bord Pleanála in 2018 largely due to traffic concerns, would have seen the plaza end close to Anglesea Street, the first turn into Temple Bar west of College Green. A turning circle would have been in place at this point for buses to return down Dame Street.


However, two years ago the council announced that the National Transport Authority’s redesign of the bus network would allow it to significantly increase the traffic free area, extending it along Dame Street to South Great George’s Street.

The council had been expected to lodge a fresh planning application for the plaza last year, but last November it said the application would be delayed until this year, with a view to starting work in 2024.

However last July it emerged the council had terminated its contract with Paul Keogh Architects due to a conflict with EU procurement rules. This was because the size, scope and cost of the project had increased to a degree which put it outside the terms of the scheme the architects firm had been appointed to design, the council said.

The new contract was for a “multidisciplinary design team for the College Green Dame Street Public Realm Project and other associated ancillary projects relating to the College Green Dame Street Public Realm Project” the council said on Friday. The €10 million value in the contract notice was a “nominal figure to cover the value of all design team appointments that may be made under this framework” it said. “The construction contract for the College Green Dame Street Project will be procured by a separate tender competition,” it said.

The tender documents also state that the €10 million figure is the “maximum estimated value” for the design team’s services and “it is emphasised that this figure is provided strictly for indicative purposes only as there is no guaranteed expenditure under the framework.”

The council’s project manager for the plaza scheme, Patricia Reidy in October said the changes to the scope of the project meant the council could be at risk of legal challenge if it did not re-advertise the design contract. The council would “establish definitive timelines once that design team has been appointed” she said.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times