The Dublin Docklands Area comprises of 520 hectares or 1300 acres of land on the north and south banks of the river Liffey. In the past there was little contact between the communities on both sides of the river. Until Butt Bridge opened in 1879 Sackville Bridge – now O’Connell Bridge – was the nearest crossing-point, so people relied on the Liffey ferries to cross downstream. Until 1930 Ringsend was part of PembrokeTownship, which was home to some of the wealthiest households in the Dublin area. In that year it became part of Dublin City.
When the Custom House opened in 1791, Ringsend was the only part of this area that was developed. The remainder consisted of low-lying wastelands, which had been divided into lots – or lotts – by the Ballast Office. As the port expanded downriver, this land became more valuable. People and businesses moved into the Docklands, attracted by the prospect of jobs and the large tracts of underdeveloped land. The road from Ringsend to the city was regularly under water at high tide, but land was gradually drained or reclaimed. To construct the North Wall and Alexandra Basin the port authority had to reclaim a large area of the foreshore, and this provided sites for factories and other businesses.
Custom House Docks Development Authority (CHDDA)
The Custom House Docks Development Authority was established by the state in 1987 to oversee the development of an international financial services centre (IFSC) within the Docklands. The Urban Renewal Act 1986 defined the boundaries of the area between Amiens Street, Commons Street to Sheriff Street Lower to the north and Custom House Quay to the south. The Urban Renewal Acts of 1987 and 1994 expanded the site to include land to the East.
These acts established a framework to spur investment however the establishment of the IFSC which became that of a high class business quarter rather than a vibrant, new neighbourhood left broader social, cultural and environmental concerns unchanged.
Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA)
In 1997 the DDDA was created by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act 1997 to lead a major project of physical, social and economic regeneration in the East side of Dublin. The Project extended over 520 hectares, at the core of which were former Dockland areas comprising some 100 hectares of substantially derelict or low value industrial land. The various communities lying in the area outside of this core comprised some 17,500 people. Although there was a very strong and active sense of community, the area had severe economic and social problems. In particular, unemployment was, in 1997, averaging 30% and only 35% of the children were still attending school in the Leaving Certificate year.
The Docklands Project radically changed the whole area, not only through major phases of mixed use property development but also by involving local people in the planning of that and by fostering and investing in educational and other social interventions. These interventions aimed to develop social and economic capacity in order to ensure that area development was truly sustainable.
On 22nd May 2014, it was announced that a fast-track planning process was approved by An Bord Pleanala. 366,000 square metres of office space and 2,600 homes will be developed across 22 hectares of land in the North Lotts (in North Wall) and Grand Canal Dock areas under the Docklands Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) planning scheme.
In March 2016, the DDDA was formally disolved with Dublin City Council taking responsibility for the Docklands area and the implementation of the SDZ planning scheme.