Capel Street pedestrian plans expanded by Dublin City Council

Ahead of outdoor dining resuming on June 7th several southside streets will go car free

Dublin City Council  has said it will trial the pedestrianisation of Capel Street in sections “on an incremental basis” over six weekends from June 25th. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Dublin City Council has said it will trial the pedestrianisation of Capel Street in sections “on an incremental basis” over six weekends from June 25th. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Dublin City Council is to expand its plans for pedestrianisation on Capel Street, following criticism of its proposals for outdoor dining facilities when Covid-19 restrictions ease.

The council earlier this month proposed pedestrianising a small section of the street at its northern end and eliminating almost all on-street parking to create space for tables and chairs. However, councillors, traders and sustainable transport groups described the move as unambitious and disappointing.

The council has said it will now trial the pedestrianisation of the street in sections “on an incremental basis” over six weekends from June 25th.

From next week the council will go ahead with work to extend footpaths to facilitate outdoor dining ahead of its resumption on June 7th. It will also begin the implementation the pedestrianisation of a 60m section of the northern end of the street.

Banning cars from this section, between Parnell Street and Ryder’s Row, would result in minimal disruption to traffic as motorists, who are permitted to drive north only at this point, would still have the option of using Ryder’s Row.

All but six parking spaces between Mary Street and the quays will be removed and replaced with footpath extensions.

Between Mary Street and Little Britain Street, five general parking spaces and one disabled parking space will be retained, but the council said other disabled spaces would be relocated to streets in the “immediate vicinity” to ensure no reduction of numbers. Loading bays would also be relocated to “better align with non-hospitality businesses,” the council said.

More than 4,500 people made submissions on the Capel Street proposals earlier this month, with 85 per cent in favour of plans to increase pedestrian space the council said.

Permanent ban

Meanwhile, cars will be permanently banned from several areas around Grafton Street from Monday.

However, while South William Street, Drury Street, South Anne Street and Dame Court will all have car-free areas, their full pedestrianisation has been curtailed because some car-park owners, including Brown Thomas said they could not facilitate the measures.

Parts of these four streets, as well as Duke Street, were pedestrianised on a trial basis over weekends last July and August, with parking spaces turned into outdoor seating areas for cafes and restaurants to accommodate more people during the Covid-19 restrictions.

The council held a public consultation process on the plans last November and 97 per cent of respondents were in favour of their implementation.

The council had initially hoped to have the measures in place ahead of the easing of Level 5 restrictions last December, but this was delayed until January. The plans were put on hold again when restrictions were reintroduced. Work has now begun with a view to completion in just over three weeks’ time.

Under the council’s plans, South Anne Street will be fully pedestrianised, as it was during the trial. Dame Court, the street that runs from Exchequer Street down to the Stag’s Head pub, would also be fully pedestrianised. Drury Street will be pedestrianised just after its junction with Fade Street to the Drury Street underground car park.

The South William Street pedestrian zone will be substantially smaller than during the trials. It had been pedestrianised between the Brown Thomas car-park exit and Chatham Row, but this required reversing the direction of vehicles leaving the car park, with a stop/go system in place at Exchequer Street.

The council said it asked the car-park owners if it would be possible to reverse their entry and exit arrangements to make South William Street an entry point to the car park with exit from Clarendon Street. “This would then allow for the majority of the street to be pedestrianised,” the council said.

The car-park owners said doing so would pose “insurmountable structural difficulties that cannot be overcome”. In addition they said the trials caused considerable congestion internally to the car park and its business dropped by 30 per cent from the first week of the trial.

As a result, only the small area between the car-park exit and Exchequer Street, a 30m stretch will be pedestrianised from 11am. However, the only vehicles using the street will be those exiting from the Brown Thomas car park.

Only one business used the outdoor furniture on Duke Street during the trial. There is also a private car park, a delivery yard and construction site that require access, the council said, and it decided not to go ahead with the street’s permanent pedestrianisation.