Temple Bar outlets plan for 3,000 outdoor diners when Covid curbs eased

Plans to requisition road space for restaurants to be submitted to Dublin City Council

Outdoor dining on South William Street in Dublin last September. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

Outdoor dining on South William Street in Dublin last September. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

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Restaurants, cafes and pubs in Dublin’s Temple Bar are devising plans to seat almost 3,000 customers outside their premises when restrictions on outdoor dining are eased next month.

Plans for outdoor tables and chairs on 17 streets in the city’s cultural quarter will shortly be submitted to Dublin City Council, which last December refused to permit street furniture in parts of Temple Bar.

Preliminary plans, drafted by business group the Temple Bar Company (TBC), propose the use of pedestrian squares and loading bays, as well as footpaths where space allows, but also the requisitioning of road space for tables and chairs to accommodate a potential influx of diners.

The largest number of diners is expected on Fleet Street, where 820 seats are proposed on the footpaths, loading bays and the roadway on both sides of the street, which has low levels of vehicular traffic.

The next largest number of diners is proposed for Parliament Street, currently a main thoroughfare for vehicles coming from the north quays and Capel Street. Here, 548 diners could be accommodated if paths, loading bays and the roadway were used, with traffic reduced to one lane. Essex Street East, another lightly-trafficked street which runs at the back of the Clarence Hotel, could seat 482, while the pedestrianised Meeting House Square and Temple Bar Square could hold 400 and 296 respectively.

Outdoor dining is set to resume for restaurants, cafes and pubs on June 7th, but while the fees for tables and chairs have been waived for the rest of this year, businesses still have to apply individually to the council for permission for their use.

Plan

Martin Harte, TBC chief executive, said 140 businesses in Temple Bar could seek to avail of the outdoor furniture scheme and it would make sense for a coherent plan to be adopted for the whole of the zone, instead of ad-hoc applications being made by individuals.

“I think the council has been put in a really difficult position here, with very little time to process what is likely to be a huge volume of applications. What we want to do is work with them to navigate this minefield so we can all help traders to reopen.”

The plan would also include proposals for traffic-calming measures and temporary “build-outs” of footpaths, similar to the dining areas already implemented around the Grafton Street area, Mr Harte said.

An outdoor cultural programme is also being devised by TBC, likely to include food markets. Proposals for “medical/science-based mitigation measures” for the return of indoor dining would also be submitted to the council, he said.

The council said it was aware a business group was preparing an overall plan for Temple Bar. “We welcome this initiative to present a co-ordinated approach and look forward to reviewing the documentation when we receive it,” it said.

It said it was committed to issuing street-furniture licences to as many businesses as possible.

“Managing public spaces is a very difficult task that requires almost forensic assessment on a case-by-case basis. Many matters such as circulation space, safety of citizens and customers, emergency access, other uses of the proposed street-furniture spaces and local residents’ concerns, as well as any other site-specific issues, are taken into account.” It said it would issue street-furniture guidelines in the near future.

Early in December when Covid-19 restrictions were eased, the council refused permit outdoor tables in the Temple Bar pedestrian zone, which runs from Eustace Street at the Norseman pub to Temple Bar Square. In the week before Christmas it relented, but days later restrictions were reintroduced.

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