Monday 20 May 2019

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

WILD AT HEART OF CITY: Deer roaming in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, one of two herds managed by the Office of Public Works. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
WILD AT HEART OF CITY: Deer roaming in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, one of two herds managed by the Office of Public Works. Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

AN overhaul could see Dublin's Phoenix Park transformed into a new 'visitor experience' with dedicated transport lanes, new tourism centres and even a funicular.

That is according to a draft review from the Office of Public Works (OPW), which remains open to public consultation until Friday.

The 'Draft Phoenix Park Visitor Experience Strategic Review', which was commissioned last year, would see Europe's largest city park broken into five distinct zones inspired by themes such as "history and heritage, activity and wellbeing, identity and biodiversity".

One of the changes would see a combined "High line and Greenway" throughout the park, which would allow for walking, running, cycling, horse and carriage, skateboard, and hop-on, hop-off shuttles, as well as information points along the way, "telling of the park’s history and visitor attractions".

A major change would see the development of a modern funicular or outdoor elevator, to connecting the Magazine Fort on Military Road with Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge. Photo: OPW
A major change would see the development of a modern funicular or outdoor elevator, to connecting the Magazine Fort on Military Road with Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge. Photo: OPW

A major change would see the development of a modern funicular or outdoor elevator, similar to those seen in the Portuguese cities of Lisbon and Porto.

This would make a connection between the Magazine Fort on Military Road with Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge.

"Dublin has no such precedent, which fact has in itself, in the past, often been sufficient reason for the introduction of a new-fangled novelty," the report said.

"However, the ascent may simply be by a well-designed ramp and staircase, perhaps more intrinsically satisfying, though it is unlikely that this in itself will perform the function of ‘feature’."

Recommendations have been made to improve the connections to the park with public transport, including from the nearby Heuston Station.

"Chesterfield Avenue, at just over 4km long, connects the City to the western suburbs. This entails a large throughput of commuter traffic," the report said.

The changes would see would see the Phoenix Park broken into five distinct zones inspired by different themes. Photo: OPW
The changes would see would see the Phoenix Park broken into five distinct zones inspired by different themes. Photo: OPW

"However, we believe that herein lies an opportunity to improve external linkages. With a highly serviced Central Line, commuters may be persuaded to leave their cars at, or near the gates and take the public transport on offer to reach the nearby Heuston Station with bus, train, LUAS and bicycle travel opportunities."

The current exhibition and café space would be re-purposed as a Children’s Education Centre, complete with its own set of landscape spaces, if the plan is approved.

The OPW have also suggested new information centres for visitors, to provide tourists with "information on the hiring of bikes or segways, the current position of the deer herd, or the events and performances in the parks many arenas and public spaces".

According to the OPW, the 29 proposed changes, if implemented, would improve the park's facilities and "increase the park’s contribution to Ireland’s tourism economy".

Minister of State for OPW and Flood Relief, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, said the plan would be beneficial for generations of the future.

"The Phoenix Park is a magical part of the City and provides invaluable health, recreational and environmental benefits for so many communities," he said.

"This Draft Strategic Review aims to further realise the Park’s potential as one of the truly great parks of the world while also ensuring that the unique features that comprise the Phoenix Park will be conserved and protected for the enjoyment of generations to come."

Head of attractions at Failte Ireland, Mary Stack, said that they see major potential for the park to evolve as a world-class visitor attraction.

"The Phoenix Park is already a fantastic amenity for tourists and locals alike and contributes significantly to Dublin’s reputation as a leading capital city which is side-by-side with nature," she said.

"This review, alongside the public’s feedback, will guide the future development of an enhanced and seamless visitor experience, opening up the wealth of stories to be told in the natural and historic setting of the Phoenix Park."

The public are invited to make observations with respect to the draft report to visitorpark@opw.ie no later than Friday April 26 at 6pm.

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