Pedestrianisation trial of Capel Street during weekends a ‘game-changer’

Local businesses call for extension of pilot pedestrianisation of Dublin city streets

 Dining out on Capel Street, Dublin.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Dining out on Capel Street, Dublin.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The trial pedestrianisation of Capel Street and Parliament Street during the evenings at weekends has brought “a lot of life” to the areas, with local businesses calling for the measures to continue.

Cars have been banned from the Dublin city centre streets, which face each other over the Liffey at Grattan Bridge, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 6.30pm and 11.30pm.

The pilot pedestrianisation of the two streets is to come to an end on October 3rd. The trial had initially been planned to end in July, but was extended several times following pressure from businesses and the public.

Hugh Hourican, owner of the Boar’s Head pub on Capel Street, said the pedestrianisation had been a “total game-changer” for the area. “It gave a total face lift to Capel Street, you can see footfall has picked up,” he told The Irish Times.

The busier weekends have in turn led to more businesses during the week, with the area becoming “a destination” for people to socialise, he said.

“We only have the pedestrianisation on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, but it has introduced more people to the street that are dropping over Monday to Thursday.”

Mr Hourican said he felt there had been “absolutely no problems” with the trial, which had the broad support of local businesses.

The publican said while the measures would never be “a seven day a week thing”, he would like to see it become “as permanent as possible” at weekends.

“I would really, really love to see it open at Christmas because Dublin city centre is a lovely place at Christmas,” he said.

Dining spaces

On Monday afternoon there was a steady bustle of people sitting down for lunch or a coffee in outdoor dining spaces along the street.

Romano Morelli, owner of Ristorante Romano, a long established Italian family restaurant, said business had picked up due to the pedestrianisation scheme.

“At first I was a little bit sceptical, I didn’t think it was that kind of street, but it has changed dramatically and it has brought extra custom.”

He pointed out the trial had brought substantial crowds on some weekend evenings, particularly between PantiBar and Jack Nealons pub.

“They’re bringing their own drink and it seems to be a meeting area. Other than that it hasn’t affected business as such,” he said.

Overall he said the trial was positive. “There is a buzz on the street now with outside dining. I see more tourists coming onto the street than ever before.”

Aaron Smyth, a barista working at Camerino bakery and cafe, said the pedestrianisation had “brought a lot of life” to Capel Street. “Businesses are doing a lot better, people are sitting outside, people come for a ramble.”

He said Dublin was “already losing its soul so the local authority should consider permanently pedestrianising the street, which would help local businesses.

Dublin City Council has said it received around 7,000 submissions as part of a public consultation on the pilot.

“When the submissions have been considered a report will then be prepared for the elected members and detailed planning of the preferred option will be advanced,” a council spokeswoman said.

“Any option which is advanced will be subject to further consultation and any necessary statutory requirements.”