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SoJa Anyone? Plans Unfold for South of James Street

New development will transform Guinness Brewery lands and adjoining Grand Canal Harbour in years to come



The area south of James Street is among the most iconic locations in Dublin, including as it does the original St James’s Gate Brewery and the original terminus of the Grand Canal. The area straddles the east edge of St James’s Hospital and the main commercial streets of The Liberties. Its an area that’s set to see major changes in the coming years.


Grand Canal Harbour

Planning permission was granted by Dublin City Council in late November for a major redevelopment of the former Grand Canal Harbour site close to St James’s Gate Brewery and the Guinness Storehouse. The landbank is owned by the Marlet property group who have already cleared the site of its 20thC warehouses on foot of a prior 2011 planning permission. After a previous attempt to amend that 10-year development proposal, Marlet submitted a fresh planning application in 2019 for a series of buildings ranging in height from 3 to 11 storeys, and including:

543 no. ‘build to rent’ residential units comprising 1 and 2 bedrooms; workspaces, retail, restaurants and cafes; restoration of the former Harbour House (a protected structure) and its conversion to a mix of uses including a medical centre, artist studios and a cafe; 50 no. basement car parking spaces and over 730 no. cycle parking spaces; and new public realm including a water feature designed to reflect the previous harbour and retained sections of the original harbour walls.

The company is now awaiting a final grant of permission or details of an appeal.



Grand Canal Harbour site
View from nearby Pim Street

St James’s Gate Quarter

The harbour site sits alongside over 12 acres of land which drinks giant Diageo is seeking to redevelop. The land comprises the historic brewery, much of which is now surplus to requirements with the relocation of all production to Victoria Quay in 2015.

Diageo announced plans for a ‘St James’s Gate Quarter’ in 2017, and set about finding a suitable development partner for what it anticipates will be a decade -long, multi-million euro redevelopment. An initial masterplan for the site, developed by RKD Architects for Diageo, envisages “sustainable mixed-use urban regeneration on a grand scale incorporating historical and industrial heritage at the world-famous Home of Guinness”. It is known that three potential partners – Ballymore, Hines and U&I – were vying for the tender to develop with Diageo. While a decision on a partner was expected in early 2019, to date there has been no firm announcement.

Redevelopment of the former brewery lands, which includes many protected structures and some of the best 18th & 19thC industrial architecture in the country, is likely to include new residential and commercial spaces, with potential leisure and tourism uses reflecting the site’s anchor – the Guinness Storehouse.

New streets and spaces of St James's Gate Quarter
The brewery lands include many Victorian era buildings

The Digital Hub

Its over 12 years since the last major redevelopment plans for the so-called Vathouse 7 site, which belongs to the Digital Hub Development Agency. The 5 acre site lies to the south of Thomas Street and extends to Rainsford Street and includes the huge 19thC vathouse as well as a collection of historic buildings that include a former distillery (Millar & Sons), a former library that now houses offices, and a couple of 17thC houses believed to be Dutch billies.

The Digital Hub announced plans in 2015 for a competitive dialogue to find a development partner for the long-vacant site. However to date no firm plans have been advanced for what is one of the most significant blocks of land in the area. Could 2020 finally see detailed plans emerge?

Keg runs in Vathouse 7

West end of James’s Street

Crossing Echlin Street, the stretch of streetscape to St James’s Hospital includes some of the area’s most intriguing buildings. Some of the houses here date to the 17thC, and while the streetscape has seen better days, its clear that investment is starting to take shape.

The former steelworks is the most signficant site here, a series of large sheds that are currently leased for car parking by St James’s Hospital. The site was recently sold and given the upshot in activity in the area from a rejuvenating hospital, it is only a matter of time before redevelopment plans are proposed.

Down to the harbour - Echlin Street
1920s James Street

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