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“I don’t know what they’re doing with it,” says Anna FitzPatrick, a resident of Marewood Court, Sillogue Road, of the old Ballymun Shopping Centre.
“The chemist was the last shop there and that closed at Christmas,” FitzPatrick says. “You wouldn’t know what’s going on.”
The old Ballymun Shopping Centre is a relic already of the 1960s high-rise development of the area.
It sits across from the Axis Ballymun centre in front of a half-empty car park, draped with a peach “Is cuimhin linn” poster with pictures of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.
At a meeting of the north-west area committee on Tuesday, councillors heard about a planner’s report approving of council plans to press ahead and pull down the shopping centre and rip out the foundations.
“No new construction works are proposed at this time, other than those necessary to secure or divert services,” the council’s planning application says. “The redevelopment of the site will be subject to a separate planning application.”
Some locals residents had raised concerns that the area currently used as a car park would be shrunk from 395 spaces to 216, making it tough for businesses in the area.
The planner’s report says that it would be unsustainable to keep all of this central site, near public transport, as a car park.
It also says that it has no objection to the demolition. But “it is not in the interests of sustainable development to allow for the clearance of the site without plans to redevelop it”.
But the application “states that the redevelopment of the site for a mixed use, higher density scheme will be the subject of a separate application”, it said.
Councillors at the meeting gave the nod for the planner’s report to go on to the monthly council meeting on the first Monday in November – where the full cohort of councillors vote on it.
Some councillors at Tuesday’s meeting voiced concerns about the fate of the site post-demolition.
Noeleen Reilly, an independent councillor, raised the prospect of the site post-demolition being left idle and that another vacant site in the middle of Ballymun’s town centre was “the last thing that was needed”.
Paul McAuliffe of Fianna Fáil proposed a contingency plan to ensure that the site post-demolition would be left as a grass area.
Shannon Clare, pushing a buggy towards SuperValu with her friend Shannon Dillon, was sceptical that anything would be built on the site. “They’ve been talking about a new shopping centre since I was ten and I’m twenty now,” she said.
Residents have long had to take buses out of the suburb to buy basics, and while other visions have been put forward, there have been no concrete announcements about what might take the old shopping centre’s place.
What would Clare like see? “There’s nothing here for young people, there’s no clubs or pubs or anything,” she says.
“There’s The Fishbowl,” says her friend, Dillon.
But that can only fit 50 people, says Clare.
It’s the only pub in the town of 20,000 people, says Shannon Clare’s mother, Natasha, who joins them from across the road.
The only other pub, The Towers, which closed down in 2014, is on the site of the soon to be demolished building.
“It’d be good to have another one,” says Natasha talking about the old shopping centre. “For the competition.”
[CORRECTION: This article was corrected at 15.41 on 17 October. Noeleen Reilly is an independent, not a Sinn Fein, councillor. Apologies for the error.]