Dublin City Council’s (DCC) plans for the pedestrianisation of College Green are to go before An Bord Pleanála with a decision date expected for August 2017. The development is to cost in the region of €6 million.
Due to the scale of the project, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required before the development can go ahead, according to a consultant’s report commissioned by the council. According to RTÉ, the report by Brendan O’Brien, head of Technical Services with the city council, outlines that the EIA should be lodged with An Bord Pleanála by March 2017.
The plans, which were unveiled earlier this year, outline a redesign of College Green as a pedestrianised plaza, covering the 3500m² area from the front of Trinity College down towards Church Lane. The existing bus traffic will be rerouted to coincide with the new Luas line on Lower Grafton street, meaning east-west traffic will be restricted to cyclists and pedestrians only. A segregated two-way cycle track will be put in place near the Bank of Ireland building to accommodate this.
The plans were put forward for public consultation between April 11 and May 24, and were met with opposition by some business-owners in the area. However, a spokesperson from the DCC has stated the majority of submissions were in relation to the rerouting of traffic and not the plaza itself.
The proposal to move the remaining bus routes (including Georges Street and Patrick Street routes) on to Parliament Street has been met with discontent by former Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, current chair of the Temple Bar Company – a group representing the business owners, traders and artists working in Temple Bar.
According to the Irish Times, Dempsey’s submission raised concerns surrounding the proposed two-way bus-only redesign of Parliament Street, which would result in a ban on cars and an increase of bus routes on the street from 3 to 20. Speaking to the Irish Times, Independent counsellor Mannix Flynn stated: “It’s outrageous for Dublin City Council to talk about bettering the environment in College Green when they will be sending 1,500 buses down Parliament Street, destroying the business and residential community there.”
The submission also noted that the design team was not required to have experience in relation to the plan’s environmental impact or handling of EIA’s. Following the announcement by the council to go before An Bord Pleanála, it is still unclear to what extent their assessment will influence to overall design of the plaza, though DCC noted that the design aspect of the project was still in its “first phase” in June.
DCC issued an international tender to search for an architectural design team for plaza, just six days after public consultation closed – a fact that Dempsey was also critical of: “Can we take it that the submissions will form no part of the consideration for this project?” The council received almost 2000 submissions during public consultation. In response, a spokesperson had stated the prompt issuing of the tender was as a result of time constraints stemming from the coinciding Luas development and should be regarded as “efficient good practise.”