herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

'We'll lodge objections if we can', say protesters as Clerys plan is approved

An artist’s impression of how the Clery’s building will look
An artist’s impression of how the Clery’s building will look

The controversial new owners of Clerys have been given permission to turn the former department store into a mixed-use development.

The new-look O'Connell Street site will comprise retail and office units, leisure facilities and a boutique hotel.

However, 28 conditions have been attached to the permission given to owners Natrium by Dublin City Council.

Regeneration

More than 450 staff - 130 of whom were directly employed by Clerys - lost their jobs when the department store closed at short notice in June last year.

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 plans to reinvigorate Earl Place, which currently operates as a service lane, by pedestrianising it and populating it with retail units.

Natrium owner Deirdre Foley, who has yet to meet the Clerys staff who were made redundant, said the planning permission is "a phenomenal opportunity" for the company.

"I'm delighted that Dublin City Council has given us this opportunity to help regenerate and redevelop this iconic building and to be a major catalyst for bringing O'Connell Street back to its former glory," she said.

Natrium said in a statement that it intends to work with Dublin City Council and others to ensure the Clerys redevelopment delivers "significant economic benefits for north inner city Dublin".

The development stands to deliver 1,073 jobs during the construction phase and 2,500 once operational.

However, the planning permission has been met with anger by former employees.

Protest organiser Suzie Gaynor McGowan told the Herald that she felt let down by Dublin City Council.

She had hoped no decision would be made until Ms Foley - who has been described as one of the five top businesswomen in the British property industry - met with staff who had been let go.

"I'm disappointed to be honest, because we had meetings with Dublin City Council and from those meetings it seemed like it wouldn't be allowed to go ahead until Natrium have met with us," she said.

"We met with Dublin City Council a good few months ago. Whereas they never said 'we are behind you', it was implied, and to find this out at Christmas, of all times, says a lot," she told this newspaper.

"It won't be the end for us. If we can lodge objections, we will. I'm absolutely devastated," she added.

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