It seems like you’ve found a few articles worth reading.

If you want us to keep doing what we do, we’d love it if you’d consider subscribing. We’re a tiny operation, so every subscription really makes a difference.

Crumlin Shopping Centre used to be the place you would go for everything, says Nuala Kinsella, walking her dog through the car park off the Crumlin Road on Monday.

“There was a newsagents, there was a jewellery shop, there was a TV shop, a butcher shop, Grey’s used to be in there, a coffee shop, a cafe,” she says, looking up at the building, to jog her memory.

“A shoe shop, a bank,” says Mark Kinsella, beside her, adding to the list.

You’d say hello to people and get all your bits done, says Nuala. “It was central, it’s there. It’s right next to you.”

Now though, the windows under the red letters of Crumlin Shopping Centre at the entrance are blacked out and grey hoardings block the walls along the Crumlin Road.

“It’s a sin to see it lying idle,” says Nuala, shaking her head.

Recently, Labour Councillor Kevin Donoghue asked council managers what they were doing about it.

“Can the Director confirm what engagement DCC has had with the owner, whether DCC has considered CPOing the site and whether it has been partially entered onto the Derelict Sites Register?”

The council’s derelict sites section unit plans to inspect the building, said a representative for the chief executive in a response to Donoghue on 13 February, “and will take action as appropriate following the assessment of its condition”.

Councillors, though, have lobbied council officials to put the shopping centre site on the list before, and been told that as the council interprets it, it doesn’t meet the legal definition of derelict.

Vacant or Derelict, Both?

Crumlin Shopping Centre gradually emptied during the 2010s, with Texas Fried Chicken announcing in 2020 it was closing. Just a Dunnes Stores supermarket remains open.

In February 2010, Crumlin Investments Limited was granted planning permission to demolish a substantial part of the shopping centre, and redevelop the 3.3 hectare site.

Plans were for two anchor retail units, with shops, cafés and space for a library or offices. In 2015, the council granted an extension of the planning permission. In 2018, Dunnes Stores absorbed Crumlin Investments Limited

The planning application expired on 17 March 2020, said a council official on 13 February in response to Donoghue’s question.

On Monday, Michelle Isaac was on her way to Dunnes Stores, around the back of Crumlin Shopping Centre, for some bits.

Behind her, a faded green shop front for a liquor store and a billboard advertising a sun holiday are the only pops of colour along the brown brick walls.

“It’s an eyesore,” she says. “It looks a bit dilapidated from around the front of it, it’s kind of nearly a waste of space, in a way.”

“It’s such a waste of space all over the country,” she says. “Massively wasted space.”

Pat Dunne, an independent councillor, said that about three years ago, he also asked the council to put the shopping centre on the derelict sites register.

The council said that it didn’t meet the definition, said Dunne. “As it was contained with hoarding around it and there was no visible dereliction from the public road.”

“Unfortunately, the Derelict Sites Act refers to a site that has absolutely no maintenance on it,” he says.

The Derelict Sites Act 1990 says a derelict site is one where a structure on a site is in a ruinous or dangerous condition, or if the land or structures are neglected or unsightly, or if there is a buildup of litter and debris on the site.

Any building that is damaging to its neighbourhood, says Kieran Rose, a former city planner. “It’s quite clear on that, the negative effects it has on the surroundings.”

The Derelict Sites Act is broad, says Rose. “Dublin City Council have interpreted it very narrowly,” he says. “They don’t want to do anything under the Derelict Sites Act.”

Hoardings along the Crumlin Road entrance to the Crumlin Shopping Centre. Photo by Claudia Dalby.

Something Ahead?

Donoghue, the Labour councillor, had also asked if the council had had any engagement with the owners of the Crumlin Shopping Centre.

“The Planning Department holds pre-planning meetings with owners of sites throughout the city,” said the response. “These meetings remain confidential until and if a planning application is lodged.”

Dunne says this suggests the council have held pre-planning meetings for a new application.

“That’s good. It’s a pity that that whole pre-planning isn’t more inclusive to include councillors and indeed communities to have some say in pre-planning, but we don’t,” he says.

Dunnes Stores did not respond to queries asking whether it has plans for the site, whether it is holding pre-planning meetings, why it didn’t build on the previous planning permission, and what it makes of the suggestion to CPO or add the site to the derelict sites register.

The shopping centre is currently zoned z4, to provide for “mixed services facilities”, and is listed as a “key urban village”, said response to Donoghue’s question.

“Key Urban Villages typically have retail outlets of a greater size selling convenience and comparison goods or provide services of a higher order,” the response said.

The council’s chief executive had proposed that part of the site be zoned for housing and the amount of retail space be reduced, it said.

But in November 2021, councillors rejected that proposal. They opted to leave it as a key urban village.

“Otherwise we could have a new residential development, but no shopping centre,” says Dunne.

John O’Hara, city planner and head of land use policy in the council, said to Dunne in November 2021 that the site was yet to be developed.

“Currently Crumlin Shopping Centre is substantially vacant bar Dunnes Stores and the lands are derelict in appearance and underutilized in nature,” said O’Hara, in an email to Dunne.

Dunne said he’s not sure why the council wanted to rezone the land.

Nowhere Else

Phyl Drinnan, walking down to Dunnes Stores with her shopping bag, says the area has been left with the huge, empty building, and nothing to replace the services that used to be there.

“It’s awful looking. It really is awful looking,” she says. “People deserve a lot more than this.”

Drinnan says people now go elsewhere for anything other than doing their food shop from Dunnes Stores.

People might go to the Ashleaf Shopping Centre, she says, which is about a half an hour walk from the Crumlin Shopping Centre.

“It’s not forcing you out, but you are turned to use the big shopping centres like Dundrum or Blanchardstown or these types of things. There’s huge scope for it, if they’d only just do something about it, and give something back to the people of Crumlin,” she says.

Beta Bajgart, a local resident who is making a documentary about climate action in Crumlin, says that there’s an obvious lack of amenities in Crumlin.

“It’s difficult to even find a coffee shop there,” she says. “So people have to drive everywhere. They can’t walk to any shops because there are no shops around.”

Isaac, who was on her way to Dunnes Stores Monday, thinks the shopping centre site could be a green area and playground, or used for housing, she says.

“Can it meet some of those needs?” she says. “It is a community here. It should be in use as part of the community.”

Bajgart says she finds the idea that a hoarding would prevent the site from being classed derelict as nonsense.

“It is not really acceptable just to cover the fact that it needs attention,” she says. “It’s very disrespectful to the community.”

Says Drinnan: “We’ve been left and left and left with it. We haven’t been informed really of where it’s going. And we’re just left with nothing, basically.”

Claudia Dalby is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. She's especially interested in stories about the southside, transport, and kids in the city. Get in touch at

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *