Tuesday 20 August 2019

Calls for toll system to end Phoenix Park 'rat run' as part of redevelopment

Deer enjoying the spring sunshine with Wellington Monument and Poolbeg Towers on the skyline. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Deer enjoying the spring sunshine with Wellington Monument and Poolbeg Towers on the skyline. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

Allison Bray

A TOLL system should be introduced to crack down on "marauding" motorists who are using the Phoenix Park as a "rat run" and free car park, according to the heritage trust An Taisce.

In its formal submission to the Office of Public Works (OPW), which has proposed a massive redevelopment of the 360-year-old park, the charity urged the OPW to address what it calls "the overriding problem of private motor traffic'' in the park.

"The vision for Chesterfield Avenue is of incremental and tentative improvements and studies, modest traffic calming, visitor centres and the like, but something much more radical is demanded for a straight 4km rat run in the climate-challenged mid-21st century," the trust said yesterday.

It also said that it welcomes proposals for a driverless shuttle-bus, a train station stop, a footbridge linking the park with the Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge and a funicular railway.

Simge Talug and Gizem Gunler, from Dublin, cycle in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Damien Eagers
Simge Talug and Gizem Gunler, from Dublin, cycle in the Phoenix Park. Photo: Damien Eagers

However, the park must abandon its "current deference to the uncurtailed and marauding motorist", it added.

Citing the hundreds of motorists who park for free each day on the main road through the park, the trust said the number of cars parked there is already at "breaking point" to the detriment of actual park users as well as the flora and fauna, including the deer herd.

Meanwhile, it also said the redevelopment plan, known as the Draft Phoenix Park Visitor Experience Strategic Review, "is too focused on architecture-led visitor centres and needs to instead place the sensitive historic designed landscape at the centre of the initiative".

It said that for a park of its size and proximity to the city, the Phoenix Park lacks recreational activities and facilities.

It urged that facilities such as the provision of an outdoor swimming pool and a track for jogging or skating could be considered.

The OPW said that the date for public submissions closed at the end of May.

It said that it is currently reviewing the submissions but it pointed out that any development would be subject to funding and planning permission.

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