New thinking for Ballymun a Dublin suburb with a population of 20,000 served by one supermarket, a part time bank and two pubs.

Ballymun residents are part of the consultation group who are redesigning the Dublin northside suburb. The people who live in the area know what will work in the new Ballymun, and what will not.  The £180 million project promises to demolish the seven towers and 19 spine blocks.  Five new neighbourhoods with a mix of private and local authority housing will be created.  The familiar roundabout will be replaced by a main street with shops and services.  Housing will be built on green areas, and as the new accommodation becomes available the blocks will be knocked one by one. 

A town centre is badly needed here.  For years, a population of 20,000 has been served by one supermarket, one part time bank, and two pubs.  And while there’s agreement across the board on the demolition of the tower blocks, people are concerned about what the future holds.  As one man tells reporter Carol Coleman, 

Mainly the maintenance problems of Ballymun and the peoples’ apprehension about where they’re going to live...and what type of housing they’re going to live in.

A leading expert on urban estates, Professor Anne Power from the London School of Economics gives her support to the redesign plan, as long as it’s not just about knocking down and rebuilding.  It is vital for local people to be involved,  

That is one of the real dangers with a real master plan, that everybody has to wait for too long for it all to come together, and that is why I think my approach of managing things are you go, involving people as you go, creating jobs for people as you go, will actually constantly renew people’s confidence.

The horses and the van shops have become a part of Ballymun culture over the years, and as one local woman explains, they also need to be included when looking at the development of the area, 

It can no longer be viable for the vans to be where they are, but that’s not to say that they shouldn’t be catered for...if they wish, they should be given the opportunity to set up their business in a structure.

With local agreement, the first tower block could be down by January 2000.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 16 February 1998.  The reporter is Carol Coleman.