Monday 26 August 2019

Foley hoping Dublin will 'get behind' Clerys plan

Natrium chief Deirdre Foley
Natrium chief Deirdre Foley
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Dublin City Council has declined a request to refuse planning permission for the redevelopment of Clerys in the absence of an undertaking from its new owners to employ the department store's former workers.

While city planners attached 28 conditions to the permission granted to Natrium last Thursday, their demands in the area of employment have been limited to the construction phase of the proposed redevelopment and refer only to the engagement of "local residents" as opposed to former Clerys workers.

The stipulation was made by the council under the terms of Dublin Council's "Scheme of Special Planning Control for O'Connell Street and its Environs 2016". According to it, "property owners and occupiers acknowledge their obligations as stakeholders that workers are assured fair working conditions in this area of special significance to the Irish nation".

Referring to the obligations imposed on property owners under the scheme, one member of the public wrote to council planners during the statutory period for observations on Natrium's application to say that they should only be granted planning permission if their application includes a 'social clause' that provides for "local employment, protection of workers' wages and jobs for former Clerys workers'.

The acquistion by Natrium of Clerys and the sudden, shock closure of the historic O'Connell Street department store shortly after with the loss of the 430 jobs among its direct and indirect employees was met with a wave of public opprobrium, which has yet to fully subside.

While Natrium chief Deirdre Foley said last Friday that she was "delighted" to have received planning permission and been given what she described as a "phenomenal opportunity to help in the regeneration and redevelopment" of the Clerys building and O'Connell Street, she appeared to acknowledge that winning public support for the project would take time.

"We're hoping all of Dublin can get behind the development. I hope people can buy into the vision and that we can give O'Connell Street a venue it deserves; one that matches those found on the top shopping streets of Europe," Foley told the Sunday Independent.

Apart from the redevelopment and reconfiguration of the interior of the existing Clery's building into offices and retail units, Natrium intends to create what it describes as a "rooftop destination" area consisting of restaurants, bars and entertainment spaces with views of Dublin city and Dublin Bay.

The company also aims to reinvigorate Earl Place, which currently operates as a service lane, into a new street populated by retail units and a pedestrian area for shoppers.

In a statement, Natrium said: "The development will lead the way in the regeneration of O'Connell Street and deliver 1,073 jobs during the construction phase and 2,500 people once operational. Natrium will work with all stakeholders necessary to ensure there is no delay in making these thousands of much needed jobs a reality."

Sunday Indo Business

Also in Business