Outdoor dining measures in north Dublin to be implemented next month

More pedestrian spaces in Skerries, Howth, Balbriggan, Swords, Blanchardstown planned

Part of the plans include the reintroduction of pedestrianisation to New Street in in Malahide. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Part of the plans include the reintroduction of pedestrianisation to New Street in in Malahide. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

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Measures to facilitate outdoor dining across north Dublin’s coastal and inland towns, including the reintroduction of pedestrianisation in Malahide, will be implemented next month.

Fingal County Council is devising plans to curb traffic and extend pedestrian spaces in towns including Skerries, Howth, Balbriggan, Swords and Blanchardstown. The measures will include the requisition of parking spaces for “parklets” to be used by cafes, restaurants and pubs to limit the risk of overspill from outdoor dining which can cause problems for people with disabilities.

The pedestrianisation of New Street in Malahide, which sparked a concerted campaigned of opposition before it was rescinded last September, will also be reinstated on June 6th.

“The coastal towns and the villages of the county have been particularly busy during Covid,” council chief executive AnnMarie Farrelly said. “Combined with that, businesses want to get back into trading and have a safe space to do it. We wanted to have a holistic plan for the county so businesses that were doing it already would do it again, and also to get more businesses involved.”

The emphasis would be on creating an environment for people to enjoy the outdoors where cars did not dominate she said.

“We wanted to return the town centres to families so adults and children can walk around their town, that’s what we want to try to do right around the county. We’d prefer to remove as many cars as we can from the centres of towns, it’s not always feasible, but where we can do it we will.”

Knock-on effect concerns

The council last summer pedestrianised New Street, a two-way street in the centre of Malahide, for a trial period.

Save Malahide Village, a campaign group of businesses and residents concerned about the knock-on effects for local traffic as well as the impact on New Street, formed to oppose the plans. Last September, the council reopened the road to one-way traffic, and added a cycle lane, but from June 6th full pedestrianisation will be reinstated.

“We feel like our concerns are being ignored,” campaign spokesman James T Doyle said.

“This street is not just commercial, its mixed use. Malahide is not just pubs and restaurants it’s a functioning village with local shops and businesses. We’re not Grafton Street and we’re not Suffolk Street.”

Residents of the street and those in the wider area felt the desire to attract visitors was trumping their needs he said. “People are afraid they will be crowded out by day-trippers. Last year, there were buskers, and queues outside people’s doors they didn’t have before.”

Recent incidents of violence in the town involving groups of young men had heightened concerns about the pedestrian plans Mr Doyle said.

“We’re very concerned about the antisocial behaviour that happened a stone’s throw from New Street. We think the pedestrianisation will act as a focal point. We don’t want to end up with Temple Bar in the heart of the village.”

Unreasonable link

Ms Farrelly said it was not reasonable to draw a link between pedestrianisation and street disturbances.

“Some of those scenes have happened without New Street being pedestrianised. I really feels it’s a misnomer to equate a family-friendly pedestrianised street with the likelihood of drawing antisocial behaviour. There will be management of the street by businesses and ourselves. We want it to be a managed space and more of a draw for families.”

The trial last summer had allowed the council to evolve its plans, she said.

“As we moved through the trial last year we made improvements all the time and we have kept everything that worked. We will be ensuring businesses take responsibility for the areas they license, so it will be very controlled.

“I’m not sure we can address the remaining concerns by returning cars to New Street. We monitored it right through last summer and there was no negative impact in terms of the functioning of the traffic in Malahide.”

While the outdoor dining areas in Fingal’s other towns will not be fully pedestrianised, there will be significant interventions in terms of the removal of on-street parking and the use of parklets, while additional litter bins, public toilets and benches will be provided.