Liberties Business Area Improvement Initiative: End of Year Report 2015

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The Liberties Business Area Improvement Initiative is a partnership between Dublin City Council and local stakeholders and businesses in the commercial streets of The Liberties Dublin. The programme is working to revive one of Dublin’s most historic and colourful districts to create a highly attractive area within which to live, work, visit and invest. The Liberties Business Forum represents the interests of large and small businesses and stakeholders in Dublin’s historic Liberties district. The Forum works in partnership with Dublin City Council to oversee and deliver The Liberties Business Area Improvement Initiative - an initial three year collaboration to transform the business environment of Dublin 8. This End of Year Report sets out the achievements of the Business Area Improvement Initiative and the Forum during its second year, 2015.


Our ambition is to develop the commercial streets of The Liberties Thomas Street & Cornmarket, James Street, High Street, Meath Street, Francis Street and Newmarket - as a highly attractive area within which to live, work, visit and invest.



2015 was a successful and busy year in The Liberties Dublin. Some of the notable achievements of the area partnership included: ‒

In May 2015, The Liberties Business Forum Limited was established as a not-forprofit company to formalise the activities of the Forum and its role in the economic life of the area.

A new Liberties website was launched in June 2015.

A very successful Liberties Showcase and Investment Expo was held in June 2015 in Teelings on Newmarket Square. The exhibition and networking event was addressed by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD.

A promotional brochure and business guides have been developed and are available online.

A new Liberties visitor map and guide has been developed and distributed to tourism offices and venues. It’s also available online.

The Shopfront Improvement Scheme was piloted on Thomas Street and Cornmarket, offering incentives to businesses and property owners to upgrade their frontages. In total, 11 projects have been funded under the scheme, a number of which have now been completed. Continued confidence in the area has encouraged a range of other improvements on our streets.

Tree planters have been installed on Thomas Street and James Street under the Liberties Greening Strategy. Further locations are planned for 2016.

Continued engagement with building owners and existing and new business interests to encourage and draw investment to the area.

National and local media exposure of the area and its renewal.



(Appointed May 2015)

Catherine Heaney

DHR Communications


Bruce Phillips

Dublin City Council South Central Area

Anthony Flynn

Dublin City Council South Central Area (resigned Sept 2015)

Christian Hayden

A4 Art, Thomas Street

Declan McGonagle

National College Art & Design

Gerry Macken

The Digital Hub Development Agency

Joanne Kearney*

The Digital Hub Development Agency

Jack Roche

Greengrocer, Meath Street

Nicholas Gore-Grimes

Cross Gallery, Francis Street

Richard Hamilton

Independent member

Anthony Joyce

Anthony Joyce Solicitors

Angela Smith

Diageo Ireland (joined Jan 2016)

Jennifer Kennedy*

Guinness Storehouse

Liam Reid*

Diageo Ireland

Vincent Callan

St James’s Hospital (joined Jan 2016)

(Company Secretary)

Representative to South Central Joint Policing Committee/ Business Watch Aoife Carragher*

Reilly’s Pharmacy, Cornmarket

Executive Stephen Coyne

Programme Coordinator

Michael Barry

Marketing & Promotions Officer



To contribute to the ongoing improvement of commercial and social life in The Liberties through practical measures and actions over an initial period of three years. -6-

What’s Been Achieved So Far


 A strong ‘The Liberties Dublin’ brand established.  The Liberties Business Forum Ltd established in May


 Monthly e-newsletter and bulletins issued to over 300

business and community.

 A new Liberties website launched in June 2015.  Active social media channels with over 7000 followers  Ongoing process of engagement with building owners

and existing and new business interests to encourage and draw investment to the area.

 Enhanced Garda presence on Thomas Street provided

in summer 2014 and 2015. Liberties Business Watch programme established.

 Area Showcase and Investment Expo held in June 2015

in Teelings of Newmarket. Promotional brochure and business guides developed and published online.

 Extensive national and local media exposure in 2015

Opportunities for 2016

Key Challenges: 1. Develop an environment that is conducive and supportive of business 2. Challenge negative perceptions of The Liberties and raising the profile of the area with the wider city

3. Develop a source of news and information about the area 4. Encourage more people to visit and spend time in The Liberties 5. Develop a high level communications and lobbying strategy to influence key stakeholders in the community and in state agencies and bodies to invest in The Liberties

 Continue to develop ‘The Liberties Dublin' website and

social media channels as engaging news sources for the area. Develop brand guidelines for ‘The Liberties Dublin’ brand for businesses and encourage its use.

 Encourage more cross-over events and ‘Liberties’

themed events.

 Continue the Bring Your Business to the Liberties

approach. Continue to build relationships with building owners/agents to reduce vacancies and attract new businesses to the area.

 Continue to develop a partnership with relevant

agencies and service providers to address 'street atmosphere' and address anti-social behaviour.

 With stakeholders, hold further ‘open days’ of business

campuses etc in the area. Support a greater city profile for the NCAD Graduate Exhibitions.

 Undertake a survey on the attitudes to the area, footfall

and consumer trends in the area.

 Host smaller-scale business events that target and

attract key sectors to the area.

 Develop a high level communications strategy to lobby

key agencies, stakeholders and bodies to encourage investment in The Liberties.


What’s Been Achieved So Far


 Participation in citywide cultural events and activities

including Tradfest, St Patricks Day, Heritage Week, Culture Night, Open House. Regular walking tours provided during the year.

 A new Liberties visitor map and guide produced and

distributed to tourism offices, venues and online.

 ‘Visit the Liberties’ pages on the website.Events and

activities promoted through web and social media.

 Liberties Welcome Ambassador programme run for 3

years from Jun to Aug each summer. A pop-up information Hub established on Thomas Street.

 New visitor attractions developed in the area.

Encouragement for tourism businesses.

 ‘Welcome’ banners on High Street, Bull Alley Street  Christmas campaign - Liberties Christmas All

Wrapped Up!

Opportunities for 2016 Key Challenges:

 Continue to develop a tourism strategy for The

1. Position The Liberties as one of Dublin’s ‘must-see’ areas

 Encourage and support an enhanced Liberties

2. Provide places to stay 3. Expand the range of things to do in the area and encouraging visitors to explore The Liberties 4. Ensure that the footfall to the major attractions benefits the commercial streets and wider area 5. Develop a greater outreach for NCAD and creatives in the area to generate new business activity

Liberties that is focused on improved connections between key attractions in the area; support for new attractions; improve visitor information. Festival. Encourage businesses to participate in and add to the festival.

 Improve DCC Events coverage of this area.  Develop a brand for Francis Street - Art & Antiques

Quarter and Meath Street Market.

 Encourage more 'local-based' historic walks of the

area and support a high quality visitor information hub.

 Develop a ‘Creative Liberties’ page and information

on new website.

 Support and promote the 1916 Commemoration

programme in The Liberties.

 Support a Spring Show at NCAD Community Farm.  Help to publicise NCAD Graduate Week and explore

possibilities for businesses to engage with festival.

 Promote The Liberties as a location for hotels and

support hotel and accommodation development.


What’s Been Achieved So Far


 A successful Area Showcase Event held in June


 A promotional brochure and strategy developed

promoting 6 key themes for growth - supported by the website.

 €1bn of public/private sector investment in the area

expected by 2019

 Continued interest in development of visitor

attractions in area: Guinness Storehouse improvement, Teelings (2015) and St James Distillery (2016)

 St James Hospital as location for National Children’s

Hospital - a €650m investment with attendant community benefits and regeneration (opening 2019)

 High media profile in 2015 with national and local


 Growth of The Digital Hub with new office space

opened at Grainstore. Continued success of The GEC.

Opportunities in 2016 Key Challenges: 1. Develop an environment that conducive and supportive of business 2. Build the local business network 3. Engage with Enterprise Ireland, IDA and agencies to bring further employment and investment to the area 4. Increasing the number of restaurants and cafes and creating a more vibrant evening economy

 Continue to advertise and highlight new business

opportunities in the area and create a supportive environment for existing businesses.

 Host a second investment event in 2016  Explore with NCAD the potential to develop a craft

fare or pop-up design shop as part of future Graduate Weeks. Assist with greater promotion of Graduate Week as the basis for a ‘design district’.

 Identify and focus on key industries to attract into The

Liberties area (i.e. Health and Life Sciences, Digital Media, Tourism, Creative, Food & Drinks)

 Liberties Business Forum will develop a

communications and advocacy strategy that actively targets EI & IDA and supports FDI investment in The Liberties.

 Seek continued Dublin City LEO support for new

SMEs and NCAD graduate start-ups.

 Seek the support of local representatives for

commercial renewal of the area.

5. Retain businesses in this area and facilitate ‘scaling-up’ from small to medium


What We Achieved So Far


 Ongoing improvement of shopfronts and buildings on

Thomas Street with a range of owners encouraged to upgrade. Reduced vacancy on Thomas Street in 2015.  Thomas Street Shopfront Improvement Scheme

piloted in 2015 - 12 projects supported  25 tree planters installed under Greening Plan. Winter

tiered planters provided. Further locations for planters in 2016 identified.  Significant level of work to add value to the Thomas

Street Enhancement Programme (QBC works).  Attention to three key projects on Thomas Street -

Chadwick's Arch, 10-13 Cornmarket & Thomas Court.  Improvements to visitor signage under Dubline in

2015. New Dubline heritage panels.  Upgrading of NCAD frontages and new campus

heritage trail - Past & Present.

Opportunities for 2016 Key Challenges:

 Undertake outstanding pavement and public lighting

improvements on Thomas Street by end of 2016.

1. Thomas Street is the primary street of the area but requires investment in buildings along the route and public realm 2. There is a significant degree of dereliction and vacancy on the street 3. Businesses have concerns around coordination of services on the street 4. There is a need to attract fresh business ideas to the street 5. There is a limited evening economy on the street and in particular, limited options to eat in the area after 7pm

 Continue a programme of building/ shopfront

improvements on Thomas Street and make available a second year of incentives. Engage more building owners to come on board and focus on upper floors.  Raise the standard of cleanliness of Thomas Street

and provide new bins.  Seek improvement measures to side streets and

lanes off Thomas Street. Can these be more positively used?  Support Digital Hub and Diageo plans to develop their

estates and encourage creative uses of older buildings.  Continue to promote Thomas Street and enhance

visitor perceptions of the street.  Provide further planters and seats.  Encourage cafes to improve their terrace areas.  Is there potential to improve the presentation of

market stalls on Thomas Street?.

- 10 -

What’s Been Achieved So Far


 New whiskey distillery and visitor centre under

development at former St James Church, including the restoration of the historic graveyard.  New Camino Centre opened in St James Church  Extensive programme of renewal of Diageo

properties along James Street estate.  NCAD Postgrad & Research Annex established at

Watling Street/ Rupert Guinness Theatre.  New district residents group was established in 2014

and renewed community engagement.  New Dubline investment in signage and route quality.  25 tree planters installed under Greening Plan  Improved presentation of Echlin Street with

assistance of Harkins Pub and local residents.  Visitor leaflet for St James’s Church

Opportunities for 2016 Key Challenges:

 Support local businesses and residents at Fountain

area to reduce vacancy and improve streetscape.

1. Develop an environment that is conducive and supportive of business 2. Create more lively frontages along James Street and make use of vacant Diageo buildings 3. Improve sentiment among business and local residents at the Fountain area and attract new uses to the area to fill vacant shops and sites

 Develop a marketing campaign to create awareness

of Liberties businesses relevant to staff and visitors of St. James’s Hospital - ‘Your Street‘  Support the Alltech whiskey distillery investment at St

James's Church.  Encourage improved signage, lighting and

presentation of Guinness Storehouse and its approaches and enhanced wayfinding signage.  Work to resolve Grand Canal Harbour site (NAMA)  Support the development of the National Children’s

Hospital at St James’s and the development of a Life Sciences quarter around the hospitals.

4. Draw the Hospital closer to the street and support the development of a regeneration area based on National Children’s Hospital - 11 -

What’s Been Achieved So Far


 Street upgrade works: Street lamps repainted. Work

to clean up small area beside Garden View and adjoining ESB site. Graffiti removal undertaken.  Programme of shopfront refurbishment on the street

and hanging baskets initiative by local businesses.  Re-landscaping of St Nicholas Place.  Draft proposals for Francis Street public realm

prepared. Initial workshops with businesses and residents held in July 2014 and November 2015.  Engagement with a number of vacant and derelict

site owners.  Low vacancy of available units.  Successful participation by galleries and businesses

in Culture Night.

Opportunities for 2016 Key Challenges:

 Advance the Francis Street public realm

improvement project.

1. Developing an environment that is conducive and supportive of business and residential life

 Undertake some small urban interventions on the

street in 2016 - parklets, cycle parking  Undertake a street brand initiative to promote Art &

Antiques Quarter to the wider city

2. Promoting the Art & Antiques Quarter

 Continue to target vacant units/ derelict sites and

3. Drawing greater footfall to Francis Street from Thomas Street

 Improve way finding signage to the street.

4. Addressing a number of vacant sites on the street, most particularly the former Iveagh Market

work with their owners to match potential tenants.

 Develop a pocket park adjoining Garden View Court.

Seek improvement of the ESB substation site.  Enhance the connection to Newmarket by improving

the public environment on Dean Street and The Coombe.

5. Improving the quality of the public realm

- 12 -

What’s Been Achieved So Far


 Pavement repair works undertaken and street lamps

repainted.  Initial discussion with local businesses to designate

Meath Street as a market street.  Refurbishment and opening of the Bull Ring Market

bringing a anchor use to the street  Three new café businesses establishing at end of

2015  Improvements to The Coombe Hospital memorial

Opportunities for 2016 Key Challenges: 1. Develop an environment that is conducive and supportive of small and informal business 2. Promote market life on Meath Street 3. Draw greater footfall to Meath Street from Thomas Street 4. Address the quality of shopfronts on the street

 Consider ways to improve profile of Meath Street

Market. Provide new wayfinder signage to Meath Street. Consider banners to streetlamps and promotional measures.  Extend the shopfront improvement grant on Meath

Street and encourage investment in buildings.  Contribute to a longer term public realm vision for

Meath Street.  Consider new cultural arts uses for empty units at

The Coombe.  Explore potential to floodlight St Catherine's Church

and improve visitor signage in its vicinity.

5. Improve the quality of the public realm and regularise stalls and on-street trading

- 13 -

What’s Been Achieved So Far


 New Teelings Irish Whiskey Distillery opened for

business in June 2015 with over 30,000 visitors by year end. This is new footfall to Newmarket.

 The Green Door Market opens and continued Dublin

Fleas and markets on the square.

 Weaver Park designed and expected to develop in

Spring 2016

 Street lamp repainting, new bins and improved street

cleansing. New steps from St Luke’s Avenue. Mural sign.

 New student housing development commences

development on Mill Street including the restoration of 10 Mill Street.

 Hotel development approved for Blackpitts

Opportunities for 2016 Key Challenges: 1. Transition the area from light industrial and vacant spaces to new uses such as housing, quality retail and market spaces and small businesses

 Improve recognition of Newmarket as a city


 Support a second craft Food and Drink Fair  Seek improved presentation of St Luke’s Church site  Seek new visitor signage and wayfinding.  Dublin City Council proposed Newmarket public

realm improvement plan to be advanced

2. Cork Street represents a traffic barrier, separating the area from The Liberties 3. Poor quality public realm 4. St Luke’s Church is a significant historic asset but is derelict and inaccessible

- 14 -

The Liberties is an area that is full of personality and it is currently drawing new ideas, new energy and new people. Through the Liberties Business Forum, we are collaborating and supporting each other. This collaboration is part of the personality of the area and it’s one of the reasons why someone would locate here. - 15 -


- 16 -

A short survey of businesses in The Liberties was undertaken in November and December 2015. While the response rate was low, the results provide some interesting views on the progress of the area over the year and point to further improvements that can be made.

On confidence levels in the area...

On cleanliness and safety...

On your business fronts...

How are we doing?...


The Liberties Dublin

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