Dún Laoghaire Enterprise Campus
Our Proposed Regeneration Project
for Dún Laoghaire Town
Dún Laoghaire is a suburban coastal town in County Dublin, Ireland, in close proximity to Dublin city centre and Dublin Docklands. It is the county town of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown. The town has a mix of residential, retail and office space and is well served by public transport.
Development in the town in recent times has been largely focused on increasing residential capacity with a consequent decrease in the amount of small-scale commercial office floor space available for employment uses locally.
This has had a knock on effect of a reduction in both the rates base of the town and the overall number of jobs located within the town. It is important to grow the employment base in the Town in order to retain and grow the mix of uses of space that create economic vibrancy and activity.
Dún Laoghaire Town has benefitted from significant investment in the public realm, in the dlr LexIcon, and in residential development. Dún Laoghaire town and environs saw a sizeable population increase of approximately 1,900 persons in the last census – the strongest rate of growth in decades and a figure that is expected to continue to grow.
In the photo to the left we highlight the council owned vacant buildings in George's Place that are the subject of our proposal.
The closure of ‘Dunlaoire Enterprise Centre’ in 2019 - The Old Firestation
In DLR County there were two enterprise centres on the Enterprise Ireland listing:
Nutgrove Enterprise Centre, Rathfarnam, Dublin 14
‘Dunlaoire Enterprise Centre’ George's Place, Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin
‘Dunlaoire Enterprise Centre’ opened approximately 20 years ago in the former fire station and provided 17 individual units of office space.
Over the past number of years ‘Dunlaoire Enterprise Centre’ has been reducing its operations. This culminated in the announcement in 2020 that the building occupied by ‘Dunlaoire Enterprise Centre’ is to become the new location of the Monkstown Educate Together school.
Therefore at present there is no large scale Enterprise Centre in the town.
There are a number of commercial and not-for-profit office space providers located in Dun Laoghaire Town, the majority of which are operating at full capacity. DigitalHQ clg operates the Dún Laoghaire Enterprise Centre above Bank of Ireland (renamed from DigitalHQ).
The @DigitalDunLaoghaire steering group (comprising representatives from key stakeholders concerned with the economic development of the locality) decided at their September 2020 meeting to start marketing available office space in the town in order to attract new innovation driven enterprises businesses to locate in the town.
A vibrant Enterprise Centre would be a key part of the long term office space offering of the town. COVID 19 is accelerating a change in the nature of work, people no longer wish to commute to out of town office parks or city centres. They are seeking locally based flexible offices.
A number of high profile enterprise centres have opened across the country in dis-used buildings that had little/no alternative commercial use. These examples include the Ludgate Centre (a former bakery) and Portershed (a former CIE building).
Enterprise Centres have a proven role in job and new business creation. These centres empower local communities and provide a pipeline of business for commercial office providers in their respective localities. In his then role of CEO of Startup Ireland, Eoin Costello, wrote an article on the economic benefit of facilities such as these breathing life back into disused buildings in communities.
Our proposed Dún Laoghaire Enterprise Campus
Thanks to feasibility study funding from Enterprise Ireland DigitalHQ are examining the potential of two adjoining buildings in George's Place, Dun Laoghaire to be repurposed on a phased basis to serve as an Enterprise Campus for DLR County.
These buildings are are located in a part of the town that has been targeted for improvement. The proposed location - Quarter: Old Town Quarter - No. 9 Georges Place and No. 3 Kellys Avenue, Dún Laoghaire (Formerly Offices and Stores for the Council Depot)
The enterprise campus proposal would focus on Building A, a former hotel (please see pictures below) located at the junction of Kelly’s Avenue and Bentley Villas and Building B located on Kelly’s Avenue (which is commonly known as The Wash House) with an interconnecting atrium connecting Building 1 and 2.
Location - Junction of Kelly’s Avenue and Bentley Villas, Dun Laoghaire.
A - Former ‘Kingstown Royal Harbour Hotel’, built in approximately 1831.
B - Former ‘Kingstown Urban District Council’ Wash House and Council Stores, built in 1915.
C - For information purposes - Location of the former Dun Laoghaire Enterprise Centre until 2019.
According to DLR CoCo there are no current plans for the possible future re-use of these buildings which are “Protected Structures” in the County Development Plan 2016 to 2022. These buildings are vacant since 2013.
‘Dunlaoire Enterprise Centre’ opened approximately 20 years ago in the former fire station which is located beside No 9. It provided 17 individual units of office space and closed in 2019. A further loss of enterprise space in the Old Town Quarter occurred in 2020 when the Harbour Business Centre closed with the loss of 8 offices for small businesses.
In terms of the planning context for these two adjoining buildings in George’s Place “the Plan supports the adaptation and reuse of the existing buildings on the site including the sensitive redevelopment of the Protected Structures.“ Specific Local Objectives - 31 To seek the redevelopment of the obsolete area at the Fire Station in accordance with the objectives of the Interim Dún Laoghaire Urban Framework Plan and the forthcoming Dún Laoghaire and Environs Local Area Plan.
The building was built by Mr. Les Kelly in approximately 1830 as Kelly’s Hotel. The first meeting of the Kingstown Town Commissioners took place there.
Thanks to funding support from Enterprise Ireland DigitalHQ have submitted a detailed proposal for how the two adjoining empty properties in George's Place could be sensitively repurposed as a vibrant enterprise campus giving new life to the listed buildings.
We believe that the proposed Enterprise Campus in George’s place, managed by DigitalHQ clg, would replace the economic activity lost in that locality when the Dun Laoghaire Enterprise Centre closed and will act as an economic engine for the proposed Myrtle Square civic area and what the County Development plan's interim Dún Laoghaire Urban Framework Plan terms the 'Old Town Quarter'. The enterprise campus would cater for a mix of small businesses, social enterprises and digital/creatives.
How our proposal fits with our strategic plan to make 'Dun Laoghaire Dublin's Remote Working Capital'
In 2022 DigitalHQ produced a strategic report making the case for repurposing three vacant state owned buildings to become engines of economic growth.
Our report estimates that 1,000 direct jobs and 870 indirect jobs would be created in Dún Laoghaire Town if three key Council owned vacant buildings were repurposed. We believe that the income to the Council in terms of rent, rates and increased occupancy of adjoining premises would significantly out weigh the costs of refurbishment on a medium term time horizon.
Some commentators describe Dun Laoghaire Town centre as a sleeping giant, great potential but not delivering on this. Post COVID the strategic advantage lies with the suburbs and our town needs to capitalise on this. In the past some feel that the town presented officials at DLR County Council with somewhat of a conundrum, it’s not been not clear what pedal to push to boost economic activity in the town centre.
We are strongly suggesting that the pedal to push now is remote work in order to capitalise on current substantial changes in work practices and set the goal of making Dún Laoghaire Dublin’s Remote Working capital.
Project Ireland 2040 is completely aligned with our proposal
Urban Regeneration and the National Planning Framework are now aligned with the National Development Plan (Project Ireland 2040) makes the case that Planning and Development in Ireland is too frequently focused on green field out of town sites rather than tackling than tackling how our cities and towns are full of redevelopment opportunities.
The extract below from the Urban Regeneration Fund booklet is exactly aligned with our proposal above.