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'Its reuse is of critical importance': Developer set to lodge planning for Player Wills site in coming weeks

The Player Wills Factory site on Dublin’s South Circular Road covers 9.33 hectares of prime city centre land.

Player Wills Factory in Dublin 8.
Player Wills Factory in Dublin 8.
Image: GoogleMaps

AMERICAN PROPERTY DEVELOPER Hines is expected to lodge a planning application for the Player Wills Factory Site in Dublin 8 over the coming weeks, TheJournal.ie understands.

Plans for the site on Dublin’s South Circular Road are expected to include 1,600 apartments with new streets, parks and local amenities. With more than 100 homes planned for the site, a planning application can be sent straight to An Bord Pleanála.

Dublin City Council owns a large section adjoining the site. Council officials and Hines are currently in discussions regarding a planning application for redevelopment. 

The site, which is listed on the council’s vacant sites register, adjoins the Bailey Gibson industrial lands. In recent months, there has been a push for affordable housing to be built on the site.

Up until December 2018, site loans were held by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) but have since been repaid. 

The site is owned by Players Square Limited. In December 2018, the loans were refinanced by American property company Hines, which is also behind the Central Bank redevelopment, meaning the site could be redeveloped. 

The developers have said the homes on the site will be predominantly build-to-rent. 

Constructed in 1935 as a factory for Player Wills tobacco, the building remained in use until 2005. 

Concerns have been raised locally regarding the community gain element of Hines’ redevelopment, how many social or affordable units will be built and if part – or all- of the Player Wills Factory will be retained. 

In August last year, Dublin 8 locals launched a campaign to highlight the history and possible use of the site. 

At the time, one campaigner told TheJournal.ie he was concerned that Hines could pass planning stages with little consideration for the needs of the community now and long- term.

“We’re focusing on ‘Players Please’ [Instagram Page] but we’re concerned with the overall site. We would love to see something there that’s an attraction for the area,” they said. 

“Something that benefits the community, good for tourists as well as housing.”

Last month, city planner John O’Hara told councillors that Hines’ had assured his planning department that it will retain and re-purpose the front of the Player Wills factory following queries raised by Labour Councillor Rebecca Moynihan. 

Said O’Hara: “The early re-use of the building is of critical importance, as it has suffered from lack of occupation for some time. The new uses, including cultural uses, will restore welcome activity and presence to the street.”

Council officials and Hines have been in discussions since December, TheJournal.ie understands.

Key to these discussions has been the level of social/affordable housing for the site, what community facilities will be put in place by Hines and if Dublin City Council and Hines can enter a joint venture to develop overall site. 

Hines did not respond to queries by the time of publishing. 

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