Wednesday 21 August 2019

Commuters will be left ‘stranded’ if Chesterfield Avenue in Dublin's Phoenix Park closes

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

Gabija Gataveckaite

Commuters may be left ‘stranded’ if proposed developments see Chesterfield Avenue close in Phoenix Park.

Local councillors have hit out at plans proposed by the Office of Public Works (OPW), which include the closure of Chesterfield Avenue, refurbishment of the Magazine Fort and the establishment of a funicular railway in the park.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Howard Mahony said that the park is considered to be part of the main commuter route and by closing it, the OPW would be “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”.

“Commuters will be left stranded as it is one of the main commuter archeries, whether we like it or not,” he said.

An executive summary of plans for the park was released last October. Since then, the plans, most of which are at a preliminary stage, have received some criticism from the public and councillors alike, especially proposals for a car park and retail developments.

The plans also include closing Chesterfield Avenue, which is currently a central car commuter hub. The executive summary proposes to replace this with a “driverless shuttle” bus or “road train”, however Councillor Mahony argued that this will not be a suitable substitution for the closure of the avenue.

“[Commuters] would love to get on a train like they do in London and be at work within minutes. It doesn’t work that way here,” he told Independent.ie.

“Where cities are well planned it makes sense, but not here,” he added.

Even with replacement bus or railway lines put in place, Councillor Mahony believes that the closure of the avenue would cause serious issues in Castleknock with commuter parking.

“They will drive to the bus, dump the car- nothing wrong with public parking, but we’ve had situations where we have had ambulances that can’t get through,” he said.

Labour Councillor John Walsh held a public meeting about the plans for the park, which he said was “well attended”.

“Residents in Castleknock and Navan Road worried about Chesterfield Avenue closing and the commercialisation of the park,” he explained.

“I think they need to go back to the drawing board in part to the commercialisation of the park and closing off roads,” he said.

The OPW has been criticised for a lack of communication in regards to the new plans.

“It seems to me, current proposals in many cases are not workable and don’t have any public support,” said Councillor Walsh.

“Changes should be driven by the public and not driven by the OPW,” he added.

Read more here: 'In an always-on world, the Phoenix Park is the perfect escape'

'If it ain't broke, don't fix it': The Phoenix Park under review

Skateboard lanes, segways and even a funicular - a look at the new proposed 'visitor experience' at the Phoenix Park 

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