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Anger rises over controversial 'billboards for bikes' campaign

CRITICS of the capital's bicycles for billboards deal will be allowed state their opposition to the plans in public, it emerged yesterday.

An Bord Pleanala is to hold a public hearing into plans by JC Decaux to erect 120 advertising hoardings across the city in a deal with the city council that would see it provide 500 bicycles in return for planning permission.

But over two dozen objections have been made to the planning appeals board in relation to 25 sites. An Bord Pleanala said yesterday it would hold a public hearing before reaching a decision on whether the plans will be approved.

JC Decaux wants to erect 70 signs and 50 advertising billboards across the city in return for providing 500 bicycles for rent from 25 locations. The 70 'metropole' billboards are 3.5 metres high and illuminated, while the 50 electronic billboards are similar in size to advertising hoardings on bus shelters.

It will also supply four kiosks to include public toilets, maps and signposts and has agreed to withdraw 100 of its existing hoardings from the city.

The new signs are proposed for the main shopping streets including Henry Street, Liffey Street and Smithfield Plaza as well as Malahide Road.

A sign is also proposed for Newcomen Bridge on the North Strand, which is a protected structure.

An Bord Pleanala yesterday said there were "valid" oral hearing requests in relation to six sites -- the junction of Henry Street and Moore Street, Jury's Inn at the junction of Parnell Street, North Strand, Smithfield Plaza, Capel Street, Malahide Road and another at Trinity College Enterprise Centre on Pearse Street.

Sites

However, objections had been received in relation to 25 sites, and the public hearing would deal with all applications currently before the Board.

The council's deal with JC Decaux has been criticised over the lack of an environmental impact assessment and fears the hoardings may hide road safety signs. Objectors include Arnotts, the Dublin Transportation Office and An Taisce, who claim the signs will destroy the city streetscape and pose a traffic hazard.

Questions were also raised as to why the council was allowed grant planning permission to a project in which it was involved. Criticism has also been made of the fact that JC Decaux has submitted 130 separate planning applications to the council, as it costs €20 to lodge an objection to each application.

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The council has refused to reveal how much the deal is worth to the city, but some reports put it at €85m.

The planning file also notes that a planning officer recommended refusal for a sign on Capel Street, as it was "a key historic street" with two rows of protected structures. However, the planner was overruled and permission was granted by the city council.


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