On Sunday about midday the Jamestown Market is busy with shoppers browsing, and stall-holders chatting.

There’s wooden chairs, and bikes, and a two-baby pram out front. Inside, there’s a corridor of stalls selling clothes, which opens into a larger room with more.

The flea market opens each Saturday and Sunday in this industrial building near where Inchicore and Ballyfermot meet.

It’s been here about 13 years now, says Clare Doyle, who rents the space from the landlord and then rents pitches in it to about 30 stall-holders.

“When we rented this place we understood that there was planning permission going to go in,” Doyle said.

Posted on the fence out in front of the building is an A4 planning notice. Donard Properties wants to knock it down and build what it says will be 128 build-to-sell apartments in four blocks, reaching up to 10 storeys – as well as spaces for a creche, a cafe, health care, and a shop.

If approved, this apartment complex would be just the beginning of changes for this area, which falls within the borders of the massive City Edge project to regenerate the Naas Road, Ballymount and Park West areas – with “the potential for 40,000 new homes”.

At the City Edge

The City Edge project is a joint effort by Dublin City Council and South Dublin County Council, as the 700 hectares it covers cross the boundary between these two local authorities.

So far, they’ve put together a high-level aspirational vision, called a “strategic framework”, published last August.

The next step is supposed to be aligning the two local authorities’ development plans with this vision – so that what planners permit, or don’t, fits with it.

The project’s website says the necessary variations to the development plans will be put forward in 2023.

The strategic framework sets out five “15-minute” districts: Greenhills, Red Cow, Naas Road, Cherry Orchard and Kylemore.

Meanwhile, as the councils move forward with their City Edge plans, developers continue to push forward their own projects within this area.

O’Flynn Construction is working on a plan for 1,119 build-to-rent apartments at the Nissan site, right by the intersection of Naas Road and Walkinstown Road.

This is in the core of the “Naas Road District”, which the City Edge strategic framework sees as “the Primary Mixed-Use Urban Centre within City Edge” – with a potential population of 12,000 to 13,000 people.

Out just beyond the Naas Road District’s eastern boundary, Alanna Homes has had permission since June 2021 to demolish the old Blackhorse Inn by the Luas stop of the same name, and build a seven-storey apartment building.

Meanwhile, Donard Properties is waiting now for a decision on its planning application for the site where the Jamestown Market now trades. That’s in what the City Edge plan calls “Kylemore District”.

Nearby, and also part of this planned district, are lands at the Inchicore Railway Works, which are owned by Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) but was earmarked for transfer to the Land Development Agency, to build homes on.

The Kylemore District has a potential population of 12,500 to 13,500 people, according to the City Edge strategic framework. There’d be a “high street” along Kylemore Road, around where the Aldi is now.

The plan to make these five districts develop according to the councils’ joint vision for City Edge involves making zoning changes and providing infrastructure to help shape private development, and also developing state-owned lands where they exist.

Not a blank slate

All this development, though, is planned where – as the City Edge strategic plan acknowledges – people are already living, and businesses are already operating.

“5,000 people live in the area in 1,600 existing homes in well established communities that are intertwined with the surrounding areas of Walkinstown, Drimnagh, Clondalkin and Ballyfermot,” the plan says.

The Jamestown Market building sits near a border between an industrial part of Ballyfermot, and residential areas of Inchicore.

There’s a string of two-storey houses just across Jamestown Road from where Donard plans to build apartment buildings, including the one reaching 10 storeys.

Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan said on Friday that he’d recently met with local residents to discuss Donard’s plan.

The residents aren’t against housing, Doolan said, but they want “the best quality housing possible” and they have some suggestions for how to improve the project.

“This is part of City Edge,” he says, an early project in a much larger plan. “We want it to be a benchmark – really good standard.”

First, Doolan said, residents are concerned about the height of the apartment buildings, and how they will overshadow their homes.

According to a daylight and sunlight analysis submitted by the developer as part of the planning application, it would shade the houses across the way a bit more – but not more than allowed by guidelines.

Still, records of a meeting between the council and the developer say the council is “not supportive of 10 storeys at this location”.

Second, residents are concerned that planned non-housing elements such as the cafe/restaurant space could end up lying vacant, Doolan said.

Why not put in social enterprises instead, which don’t necessarily depend on a certain level of footfall and profit? he suggests.

Third, they don’t like the plan to get rid of a wall and kissing gate that now separate Jamestown Road from Kylemore Way and replace them with bollards.

The current set-up was put in to foil joyriding and other anti-social behaviour, Doolan said, and should stay in so those things don’t return.

They’d also like the developer to be responsible for cleaning up the inevitable dust and dirt that are likely to coat their homes and cars during construction, Doolan said.

And what about a community gain of some sort? Why not contribute somewhat, somehow, to the community? he suggests.

“We want to make sure this project contributes to the community and doesn’t just cast shadows over people’s houses while lining the pockets of developers,” he said.

Back at the market

Doyle, who runs Jamestown Market, says that if Donard gets planning permission to build the housing complex, she’s not sure she’d be able to find a new space for it.

“It’s hard to make markets work, it’s hard to get places to rent,” she says. “I suppose flea markets are a dying industry.”

Doyle says she would have thought, with the cost-of-living crisis, and the focus on reducing human impacts on the environment, the market – with its relatively low prices, and used goods – would be busier.

“I thought people would be more interested in reusing and recycling,” she says.

Even if she does find a new location for the market, some of her stall-holders might not move to the new spot – depending on what kind of space she gets, she says.

Her stall-holders like Jamestown Market’s current digs because they’re indoors, sheltered from the weather –and they can leave their stuff there from weekend to weekend, they don’t have to pack up and unpack again each time, she says.

On Sunday, in the market, Artur Wisniewski is selling raw honey from Poland, plus clothes, shows, DVDs, CDs.

He echoes Doyle’s reasons for liking to sell at the market. It’s a side thing for him: his main job is delivering Polish newspapers to about 100 stockists across the island.

Wisniewski said he was hopeful the market wouldn’t get torn down, relocated, or disbanded.

“They don’t have planning permission yet,” he says. “I don’t think so they gonna get it.”

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