Four central Dublin streets to become ‘car free’ areas

City council move follows trial pedestrianisation period during July and August

A file photo of South Anne Street during a trial pedestrianisation of streets around  Grafton Street in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

A file photo of South Anne Street during a trial pedestrianisation of streets around Grafton Street in Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times.

 

Cars are set to be permanently banned from several areas around Grafton Street in Dublin following successful pedestrianisation and outdoor seating trials during the summer.

However, while South William Street, Drury Street, South Anne Street and Dame Court would all have car free areas, the pedestrianisation plan is being curtailed after 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 in July and August, with parking spaces turned into outdoor seating areas for cafes and restaurants to accommodate more people during the Covid-19 restrictions.

More than 90 per cent of respondents to an online survey conducted by Dublin City Council on the trials were in favour of removing cars from these streets permanently.

The council says it wants to have “much improved pedestrian and traffic-free areas implemented and ready for hopefully the easing of Level 5 restrictions from the start of December”, following a consultation period on the traffic changes this month.

Under the council’s plans, South Anne Street would be fully pedestrianised, as it was during the trial, with cafe seating along the north side of the street and deliveries allowed between 6am and 11am. A disabled parking space would be relocated to Molesworth Street.

Dame Court, the street that runs from Exchequer Street down to the Stag’s Head pub, would also be fully pedestrianised.

dominated’

This street is “dominated by vehicles normally and is not too pedestrian-friendly” but during the summer trials had become “much calmer and more pleasant”, the council said. It will also be pedestrianised after 11am with bollards blocking car access.

Drury Street had been pedestrianised between Fade Street and Drury Street car park during the summer. For the permanent scheme, this will be shortened to the area between the car park and Castlemarket, the street that runs from the George’s Street Arcade to Grogan’s Pub on the corner of South William Street.

Deliveries will be facilitated between 6am and 11am and all on street car parking is to be removed. Bollards will be installed at either end of the zone.

The South William Street pedestrian zone will be substantially smaller than during the trials. It had been pedestrianised between the Brown Thomas carpark 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.

‘Difficulties’

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 30 metre stretch, will be pedestrianised from 11am. However, the only vehicles using the street will be those exiting from the Brown Thomas car park.

The council said “providing a traffic free South William Street is an objective which needs to worked towards”.

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 has decided not to go ahead with the street’s permanent pedestrianisation.