Thursday 15 November 2018

Plans to transform College Green into 'world-renowned' pedestrian plaza refused

An artist's impression of the final design for the planned College Green plaza in the heart of Dublin, looking towards the Bank of Ireland (Dublin City Council/PA)
An artist's impression of the final design for the planned College Green plaza in the heart of Dublin, looking towards the Bank of Ireland (Dublin City Council/PA)
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Dublin City Council’s plan to develop a pedestrian plaza at College Green have been shot down.

An Bord Pleanála has refused permission due to traffic concerns, and the impact that removing vehicles from Dame Street would have on bus services across the city.

The board also found that plans to re-route buses along the quay were not appropriate and that there were “unresolved capacity issues” to accommodate bus services.

It also raised concerns about the capacity of existing footpaths on the quays to accommodate increased numbers of pedestrians.

As a result, “the proposed development would give rise to significant adverse impacts on pedestrians and on bus transport within the city centre and would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”, it said.

The board looked at impacts which would arise if the development went ahead.

It found the impacts were “negative” in relation to general traffic, bus transport and bus passengers, taxis and access to hotels and car parks.

In respect of emergency vehicles, the impact was “unsatisfactory”, but it was positive for Luas operations.

But it raised safety concerns for cycling and pedestrians.

“In respect of cycling and pedestrians, the impacts arising from potential conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians, and of buses and emergency vehicles with both groups, are considered unacceptable from a safety point of view,” it found.

The €10m project was unveiled by the city council in 2016. It envisaged a pedestrianised space on Dame Street in front of Trinity College of more than 7,000 square metres, paved and including street furniture.

There would be limited vehicular access, but the plans required bus services to be re-routed along the quays and via Parliament Street with Dublin Bus saying some 30 routes would have to be altered.

An Bord Pleanála said the proposal resulted in a significant loss of road space, noting that investment in transport infrastructure in Dublin had been “very small”.

“There are clearly opportunities lost over the past 40-50 years,” the report said. “Based on the spread of the city, increases in population, employment and tourism, there is a backlog in investment.”

Dublin City Council said it noted the decision, and would not be in a position to comment until it had reviewed the report in detail and “considered the implications of its findings”.

DublinTown said they believe there is still a “significant opportunity to create a well-managed, world class civic space” in the capital.

They said in a statement this afternoon: “It is clear that Dublin City Centre needs a world class, city centre civic space.

“While the development of the College Green Plaza had significant merit, we note that An Bord Pleanála clearly noted the same concerns that were expressed by DublinTown in its submission in June 2017 and during the oral hearing phase of the planning process in March 2018.

“Specifically, in relation to the traffic analysis carried out, the impacts on public transport and the ability of Dublin citizens to be able to access the city centre in a manner of their choosing.”

They continued to say: “DublinTown still believes there is a significant opportunity to create a well-managed, world class civic space in Dublin city centre.

“We still support the idea of a plaza in principle but there is a need for greater coordination for planning around traffic interventions which also need to be clearly communicated to and understood by the wider public as part of a city-wide overall plan.

DublinTown looks forward to working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that Dublin fulfils its potential as an accessible, world class capital city.”

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