College Green plaza plan refusal may be challenged by council

Dublin City Council is considering seeking a judicial review of decision on €10m project

Dublin City Council is considering applying for a judicial review of An Bord Pleanála's decision to refuse permission for the €10 million civic plaza at College Green.

The board two weeks ago rejected the scheme due to concerns about the “significantly negative impacts” it would have on bus transport and traffic in the city.

Plans for the pedestrian and cycle plaza would have seen a ban on all traffic, including buses and taxis, from accessing Dame Street through College Green.

In a report to be presented to councillors on Monday, the council's head of traffic, Dick Brady, said there was an "urgent need" to reconfigure College Green to take account of the increased numbers of pedestrians and cyclists in this area "and the new requirement to cater for 55-metre long Luas cross-city trams".

In addition, he said, the plaza would have “contributed significantly in addressing the issues of competing transport demands for road space at this location, by simplifying complex traffic signalling arrangements, removing conflicting movements and streamlining all bus and taxi movements along the north-south axis”.

Fresh application

The plaza project would have stopped the east-west movement of traffic, preventing access to Dame Street from College Green, but would have maintained the north-south route which sees buses and taxis run in the same direction as the Luas line travelling between Nassau Street and Westmoreland Street.

It was, Mr Brady said, a “long-held objective to develop a world-class civic plaza in College Green”. In response to the refusal, the council was considering three principal options: to seek a judicial review of the board’s decision; the submission of a fresh application to the board; or to “abandon” the proposal but go ahead with the “necessary alterations to traffic management arrangements in this area to address the competing transport demands”, using the council’s existing powers as a roads authority.

Green Party councillor Ciarán Cuffe believes the council should reapply to the board.

"I think we should address the concerns raised by An Bord Pleanála in its decision and go back to them. After all, the board did say the plaza would significantly enhance the area."

However, Mr Cuffe said there could be grounds for seeking a judicial review on the basis that the traffic report referenced by the board was “quite dated and failed to reflect current transport policy”.

The council has statutory powers to introduce traffic restrictions that could be used to stop traffic entering College Green.