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Warnings of a dire future for Smithfield

SMITHFIELD will become a no-go area if an upgrade of the plaza does not take place, council bosses have been warned.

Businesses and services in the north inner city district have complained the square is already seriously under-used and will decline further without investment.

The comments came during a planning process in which Dublin city councillors approved a multimillion euro extension and improvement of the plaza.

The Probation Service, which has offices in Smithfield, said it is in favour of the project.

Michael Donnellan, director of the service, commented: "If for any reason this enhancement plan is not carried out, it is our view in this economic climate with diminishing maintenance and lack of physical footfall mass, Smithfield could decline and become an area to be avoided."

The Light House, which opened a four-screen cinema in the plaza in May 2008, described the public open space as "alienating".

In its submission, it stated: "As people make their way to and from the cinema, they face a daunting prospect in the somewhat alienating space of Smithfield Plaza as it is now."

The EU has provided a €2.4m grant, a condition of which is that the works be completed by December 2010.

It will complete the plaza between Haymarket and Arran Street North.

The plan is to "support events and markets" by the provision of water, drainage and power facilities as well as planting trees and other greenery.

In addition, children's amenities will be provided in the space.

The council, which is to match the EU funding with money of its own, will also install a new pedestrian crossing on North King Street.