“You’d see entire families getting out of cars, and then straight into a taxi,” says Claire McLoughlin, chair of Holywell Residents’ Association in Swords, north Dublin. “It’s that they can’t get spaces, and it’s very expensive to park, at the airport,” she adds.
She is among a number of residents frustrated at her area being used as a car park by people departing Dublin Airport, where a shortage of parking was highlighted last month. The airport warned passengers travelling over the June bank holiday weekend that all 23,000 car parking spaces were sold out, and advised those who had no space booked to consider taking public transport.
Ms McLoughlin bought her house in Holywell “off the plans” in 2006 while fellow residents’ association member Gerard Gorman bought his in 2008.
“If a car I don’t recognise is parked in my space,” says Mr Gorman, “I’ll block them in with my van, so they have to knock on my door to get their car out”.
Local politicians acknowledge constituents’ concerns.
“It’s a traditional problem every year,” says Independent councillor Cathal Boland, “but has become more sensitive this year with the announcement by Dublin Airport Authority [DAA] that there is a lack of parking space.”
“Parking by airport passengers in estates close to the airport, including my own, is a regular occurrence,” agrees Sinn Féin councillor Ann Graves, of Swords. “I’m getting a number of complaints,” she adds.
“Areas, like Ridgewood [Swords] and Santry Close are really struggling,” says Cllr Dean Mulligan, of Independents4Change, “while for estates, like Northwood [Santry], who enforce clamping, the issue is not as pronounced.”
Ms McLoughlin maintains there is not enough parking for the residents alone in Holywell.
“The management company said we were to get one parking space per apartment,” says Kristina Slaidina, another member of the residents’ association.
“Some people are using their sittingroom as a bedroom. You could have two or three cars for some apartments,” adds Ms McLoughlin.
The residents also claim some commuters are parking their cars in the estate before availing of the Swords Express bus into the city centre. “It just takes 15 minutes in to the quays,” says Ms Slaidina.
The frustration of the residents is palpable. “I leave my bins in my parking space so that it will be available in the evening,” says Ms McLaughlin. “It’s really stressful when you come up the road and you have no parking spaces”.
Even without people travelling out of the airport or into the city leaving their cars in the area, parking for locals is tight. “So many people are working from home now and, particularly in the mature estates, the vast majority of grown-up kids are living at home,” says Cllr Graves.
The residents of Holywell feel the airport operator DAA should be doing more to ease the pressure on parking in the vicinity of the airport. “They should be providing more parking spaces,” says Mr Gorman. “There is a lot of land around the airport that is not being used,” he adds. “And,” says Ms Slaidina, “they have the money to do it”.
A proposed purchase by the DAA of Quick Park, a privately owned car park at the airport which has 6,200 spaces, is under review by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), with a decision due by August 10th.
Local politicians are keen that this car park becomes operational as soon as possible. “If Quick Park came back into use, it would alleviate the immediate problem,” says Cllr Boland.
However, the DAA says opening up additional car parking spaces – apart from its proposals for the Quick Park site – “is not an option” due to “planning laws, principally the Fingal County Council Local Development Plan”.
Mr Gorman feels the airport authority should also be doing more to improve transport links. “They should be talking to public transport providers to ensure there is enough public transport to the airport,” he says.
The airport authority says it has been talking – and continues to talk to – transport providers, which has led to a 20 per cent increase in bus routes servicing the airport and an additional 300 taxi permits.