Dunnes Stores claim they are blocking The Square redevelopment due to fears for shoppers

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Dunnes Stores told the High Court this week they believe the planned extension to The Square Towncentre would cause massive inconvenience to shoppers as they would have to travel further to access the shops.

The €30m redevelopment will create 850 new parking spaces at the centre, as opposed to the current 289, but Dunnes are unhappy with plans to put the extension on what is currently the northern car park as they say its shoppers will be inconvenienced and have to travel a further distance as result of the new extension.

Dunnes, who are one of the three anchor tenants at the centre, claim that a notice issued by The Square Management Ltd (SML) announcing it can redevelop the car park does not have any legal standing.

This court case is the culmination of two years of protesting by Dunnes Stores which has seen the redevelopment stalled even though planning permission has been granted.

Nama, who are financing the extension, ran out of patience with the retailer’s blocking tactics last year by filing this lawsuit against Dunnes.

Square Management Ltd are joined by National Asset Property Management Ltd and extension developers Indigo Ltd in seeking court declaration that Dunnes has no estate, interest or claim over the car park.

They have argued that Dunnes Stores is trying to frustrate redevelopment and want legal confirmation that it has no rights to use the lands, beyond a lease it entered into when The Square opened.

Dunnes has said that it has certain rights to the car park, despite not owning the property, by virtue of “easement by prescription”, a claim which has been denied.

Barrister for SML, NAPML and Indigo, Gavin Ralston SC, said the main part of the case related to how the lease for The Square is to be interpreted under landlord and tenant legislation.

Dunnes lawyers also claim the retailer has acquired certain rights to the car park allowing it to use it without having to own the property.

That claim is denied however and counsel for The Square said if a person had to travel from the farthest corner of the existing car park they would still have to travel a distance.

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An Bord Pleanala have already granted permission for the extension which will enhance and modernise the current centre.

The implementation of the entire project will create over 300 construction jobs and add c.200,000 sq.ft. of retail space that will employ over 400 new jobs on completion.

The case continues.