The Square €100m development to begin in 2021

By Mary Dennehy

SOME 30 years ago one of Europe’s largest shopping centres opened in Tallaght, a development which became a catalyst for change in Dublin 24.

Despite challenges over the years, The Square has remained at the heart of the community, with plans now in motion to expand the centre by just over 25,000 sq m – allowing it to compete with the larger shopping centres that have popped up along the M50 corridor in more recent years.

The Square Southern Development compressor

An artist’s impression of the proposed changes to the Level Three roof-top car park looking out towards the Dublin Mountains

Before Christmas, a significant planning application for a 9,956 sq m extension to the southern side of The Square was lodged with South Dublin County Council.

If this planning application is given the go-ahead, it could pave the way for a 25,000 sq m centre expansion, which would also include a previously permitted extension to the northern side (15,806sqm)  of the Tallaght town centre.

This €100m Square expansion scheme investment would generate 500 jobs during construction and 250 permanent jobs once complete.

Alongside enhancing the leisure, recreational and community aspect of The Square, the plans also hope to build on the shopping centre’s retail offerings – creating a space that is suitable and attractive to retailers such as Penneys, TK Maxx and Zara.

Proposed plans lodged before Christmas provide for an extension to the existing Level 2 mall on the southern side (footbridge-end), which would include six retail units.

If the application is passed, the Level 2 extension would also be home to a food hall/market hall area for multiple restaurant/food- and beverage-type uses, which will provide for a more casual dining experience.

The proposed extension to Level 2 mall is two-storey, with access provided for from the top storey into the shopping centre .

Level 2 Square compressor

Artist’s impression of plans for the Level Two car park seen from the Tallaght bypass

The extension will also take over 140 surface car-parking spaces located on Level 2.

However, an existing parking area to the east of the proposed Level 2 extension is to be reconfigured as part of the plans.

The application also provides for the creation of a new Level 3 entrance and new public plaza to replace the roof car park (111 spaces).

Within this space, two buildings will also accommodate nine restaurant/bar units and associated outdoor seating, with one side looking out over the Dublin Mountains and the other, the public plaza – which will lie between the new restaurant buildings and the shopping centre.

The existing entrance at the cinema will remain.

However, a proposed second entrance will provide access to the centre from the new public plaza and restaurant/bar area – which would see customers entering the existing Level 3 mall across from Le Croissant D’Or.

Permission has already been granted for an extension to the northern side of The Square (Luas-side), which allows for the construction of nine new retail units and a multi-storey car park.

A spokesperson for Sigma Retail Partners, which manages The Square for Oaktree Capital Management, told The Echo that in 2020 they are focused on pre-letting the double-height units planned for the permitted northern extension, which are suitable for retailers that require larger units.

“We want to bring in the retailers that The Square is lacking, like Penneys, TK Max and Zara,” the spokesperson said.

“There are gaps in the tenant line-up.”

According to the spokesperson, a big problem for The Square is finding the space for retailers who want to be in Tallaght – with the new units in the northern extension creating a suitable space for individual retailer requirements.

Attracting new retailers to The Square is also based on customer feedback, with the spokesperson saying: “We are also listening to our customers, who say that the number one bugbear is that The Square doesn’t have the retailers other shopping centres have.”

The spokesperson added: “The Square has such a loyal customer base.

“We have a footfall of 15 million per annum and a huge amount of that comes from the local community.

“Our customers are the heart and soul of the [new] scheme . . . with the plaza and community aspect keeping our customers involved.

“This proposed scheme is the mark of a new era here at The Square, with the scheme hoping to bring the shopping centre back up to where it was when it opened on day one.

“The Square [which is celebrating 30 years this September] will also be well placed to compete with other shopping centres along the M50 – it’s an exciting time.”

With all of the planned and proposed development for The Square, The Echo asked if its landmark pyramid would still be visible.

The spokesperson for Sigma confirmed that this original feature would still be visible from the road.

If planning permission is passed, Sigma Retail Partners hopes to commence construction work in early 2021.

A decision from South Dublin County Council on the planning application for the southern extension is due by 19 February 2020.

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