Designers of the BusConnects plan should seek to limit the removal of on-street parking in residential areas, Dublin City Council's city planning officer has told the National Transport Authority (NTA).
In a submission to the NTA, John O’Hara said the removal of on-street parking under the plans, particularly in residential areas where there is a reliance on such parking, is “problematic”.
Mr O’Hara said while the council “fully supports” the project, it has a number of concerns in relation to land take and its impact on protected structures.
BusConnects aims to overhaul the current bus system in the Dublin region by creating 230km of dedicated bus lanes and 200km of cycle tracks along 16 of the busiest corridors along with a redesign of the network.
Over 1,400 properties would lose part of their front gardens to accommodate the initial plans published last year and earlier this year, while between 1,500 and 1,600 trees would be lost. The NTA has published new designs for certain areas (Phibsborough, Kimmage, Inchicore, Stoneybatter and Templeogue) in recent weeks that would save some front gardens and trees originally earmarked.
“The availability of car parking, albeit communal and on street, is a deciding factor particularly for families and people with disabilities as to whether or not to live in the city,” says the submission, dated May 31st.
“At detailed design stage, designers should seek to limit removal of on street parking in areas where residents are reliant on the same.
"Where it is proposed to remove car parking, viable alternatives should be proposed. The NTA is reminded that it is a policy of Dublin City Council as set out in the current development plan to preserve on street car parking as a resource for the city."
Mr O’Hara said there is a “notable lack of detail” regarding trees to be removed and replaced under the plans and it is difficult to ascertain “if like is being replaced with like”.
He also said the “significant impact” on private gardens raises several concerns. “Firstly, where driveways are impacted, it may not be possible to reinstate driveways post BusConnects as remaining garden space may be too constrained. This then results in dwellings being without driveways and without potential to park on street.”
The submission notes a “particular pressure” on the city is the requirement to significantly increase housing supply, which requires “proactive land management”.
“It is important that transport is a facilitator of development rather than a barrier. Development will continue to be planned and proceed during detailed design and implementation stages of the BusConnects project,” Mr O’Hara said.
“DCC will endeavour to continue to facilitate reservations for routes on sites as they come up for development. However, it is neither possible nor desirable to sterilise sites until detailed design has been completed.”
Mr O’Hara said in relation to future development sites, the NTA must “take cognisance” of permitted developments including the access arrangements and alterations to the road network that are required to facilitate such developments.
“The BusConnects project cannot prevent the implementation of legal planning permissions. Any alterations to the layout of permitted developments would be subject to negotiation with the land owners and revised planning applications,” he added.
Mr O’Hara said the BusConnects project presents a huge opportunity to “bring about behavioural change at planning, construction and operational phases”.
He said this requires setting aside a percentage of the project funding for “soft measures” to assist affected communities, businesses and individuals to plan for and adapt to change.
"Similar to the Sydney 'Travel Choices' example, the NTA could use the disruption to travel patterns to engage with and support people to change their travel behaviour," he said.
A revised network redesign is due to be published this month and preferred route options will be released in November, followed by further rounds of public consultation.