Council to unveil radical vision for College Green in Dublin

Buses and cars may be banned altogether and a large piazza created

A CGI issued in 2015 of what College Green in Dublin could look like with Luas Cross City in place. Dublin City Council, however, is due to unveil an even more radical vision for College Green in the coming days

A CGI issued in 2015 of what College Green in Dublin could look like with Luas Cross City in place. Dublin City Council, however, is due to unveil an even more radical vision for College Green in the coming days

 

There is speculation that planners and designers at Dublin City Council are about to propose an even more radical vision for College Green than that unveiled late last year.

This new plan for College Green is due to be shown to councillors within the next two weeks and should cause fresh controversy among various stakeholders, most probably private car-park owners, retail interests and public transport bodies.

However, the council is likely to argue that its vision for College Green is about returning a major public space of standout architectural significance back to its rightful, and historic, place as the city’s showpiece. For too long, the council could contend, College Green has been a place to transit through rather than linger in, and this has been to its detriment.

Plans for the redesign of College Green, including a ban on private cars and a new piazza in front of the Bank of Ireland, are being mooted primarily to accommodate the Luas Cross City line.

This €368 million project, which will run as a double line in front of Trinity College before splitting at Westmoreland Street, is expected to be in service by the end of 2017.

“Luas Cross City is on time and on budget,” says Gráinne Mackin, communications director for the project.

Banning buses through College Green could clear the way for the council to create a major piazza in front of the Bank of Ireland which would extend to the opposite side of the street and around into Foster Place, one of the city’s most underappreciated corners currently dominated by mature broadleaf trees. As a result, College Green would be closed to through traffic.

But this could cut-off vehicle access to the small car-parking area under the central portico of the Bank of Ireland branch. “The provision of vehicular access to the piazza at the front of our College Green buildings is an important part of the bank’s business operations at College Green,” said a spokesman for the bank.

Bank of Ireland has also just spent eight months cleaning the facade of its College Green branch and is planning to refurbish its main banking hall and other primary spaces as part of works to create a €10 million cultural centre in the complex which will open in 2017 with a Seamus Heaney exhibition. In addition, the bank has obtained planning permission to re-instate the surface of its front piazza and upgrade disabled access to the branch.

Luas Cross City will also run as a twin line around the Dawson/Nassau Street corner, and this could have major implications for bus routes which currently use these streets. Turning right or left for buses at this busy corner may be impossible once Luas is in place.

It’s reasonable to assume that the authorities have known for some time how much road space Luas Cross City would take up at key city centre intersections.

This has led to suggestions that the council has been engaged in a long softening up process of the various stakeholders’ concerned before finally unveiling its real plans. For College Green, that moment might be at hand.

*This article was amended on February 7th, 2016