College Green plaza decision delayed to next April

Delay means buses will still cross Luas line when trams start operating in December

Architect images for the College Green civic space: Dublin Bus wants to keep running buses through College Green.

Architect images for the College Green civic space: Dublin Bus wants to keep running buses through College Green.

 

A decision on whether a new €10 million civic plaza can be built in College Green will not be made until next April at the earliest, several months after Dublin City Council planned to start work on the scheme.

The delay means the council will not be able to stop buses crossing College Green ahead of the start of operations of the new Cross City Luas line in December.

The council applied to An Bord Pleanála last May for permission to build the pedestrian- and cyclist-only plaza, banning all traffic, including buses, access to and from Dame Street. The planning board had initially intended to make a decision on the application at the start of this month.

However, last August, following submissions from Dublin Bus, the National Transport Authority (NTA), Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and city business interests, the board ordered the council to undertake a “comprehensive assessment” of proposed traffic changes for the plaza.

The council had to assess how the how traffic changes would affect individual streets, access to homes and businesses, including car parks, and provide details of current journey times for buses and other traffic over a distance stretching from Heuston Station to Shelbourne Park greyhound stadium in Ringsend, and from the Mater hospital to Leeson Street Bridge.

“The assessment shall address the wider city implications of removing traffic from College Green and the adequacy of infrastructure,” the board said.

‘Premature’

The council had to respond to the NTA and Dublin Bus concerns that its proposals were “premature” pending the ongoing redesign of bus services in the city, as well as the bus company’s concern that buses would be prevented from travelling west-east through College Green.

Dublin Bus wants to keep running buses through College Green and said stopping it from doing so would have a “socially regressive impact on already disadvantaged communities”.

The council submitted its assessment to An Bord Pleanála last month, but the board has now directed it must allow the public to view and make submissions on the new information.

In a letter to the council, the board said the new information included “significant additional data in relation to the likely effects on the environment of the proposed development and the likely consequences for proper planning and sustainable development in the area”.

The council has said it will publish the information within the next two weeks.

Public hearing

The board has pushed out the date for its decision on the plaza until the end of April next year, and could decide to hold a public hearing on the plaza before then.

The council had initially intended to have the plaza in place last June ahead of the start of operations of the new Luas line which runs in front of Trinity College, but in October of last year it decided the project needed to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála.

When it made its application to the board last May, the council said the plaza was expected to take up to 18 months to construct, and would not be in place ahead of the start of operations of the line. However, it said if the board granted permission as expected by November, it would be in a position to implement the traffic changes immediately, before building the plaza.

With the board’s decision deferred until next April, the council will not be able to stop buses crossing the Luas line to access Dame Street, although it has said it can use its traffic control powers to stop cars and taxis.