New College Green plaza plan to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála

Increased traffic restrictions due ahead of fresh application in the new year

A Bord Pleanála rejected a plaza scheme due to concerns about the “significantly negative impacts” it would have on bus transport and traffic in the city. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

A Bord Pleanála rejected a plaza scheme due to concerns about the “significantly negative impacts” it would have on bus transport and traffic in the city. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

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A fresh application to build a pedestrian and cycle civic plaza in Dublin’s College Green will be lodged with An Bord Pleanála by Dublin City Council in the new year.

The council has decided not to launch legal action against the board for its decision last month to refuse permission for the €10 million traffic-free plaza.

However, Dubliners are set to face increased traffic restrictions in the city centre ahead of the new application to the board.

The board in early November rejected the plaza scheme due to concerns about the “significantly negative impacts” it would have on bus transport and traffic in the city.

The council subsequently said it was considering seeking a judicial review of the board’s rejection of the plan that would have seen a ban on all traffic, including buses and taxis, from accessing Dame Street through College Green.

It had until the end of this week to decide if it would seek a judicial review.

Dick Brady, the council’s head of traffic, said the current traffic problems in College Green would need to be addressed before the application was lodged.

“The council will move to make necessary changes in the College Green area for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists and the efficient operation of public transport.”

‘Urgent need’

While he was not yet in a position to outline these changes, Mr Brady has previously said there was an “urgent need” to reconfigure the area to deal with increased numbers of pedestrians and cyclists “and the new requirement to cater for 55m-long Luas cross-city trams”.

The council has been preparing plans for the plaza since 2015 and has said the creation of the traffic-free space was essential to the smooth running of the Luas Green line that began operations through the city centre last December.

It formally submitted its planning application for the plaza to the board in May 2017 and the board had initially intended to issue its decision in November of last year, the month before the cross-city Luas began running.

However, following a large number of appeals against the plaza plans, including one from Dublin Bus which said taking buses out of the plaza space would be “socially regressive”, the board decided to hold a public hearing.

Postponed

This was scheduled to run in January, but days before it was due to begin the hearing had to be postponed because of errors in a newspaper notice published by the council, on the board’s instruction, the previous November.

The hearing was rescheduled for March, and did go ahead, but took three weeks instead of the scheduled three days. A decision was due in April, but was postponed for six to eight weeks. That period was then extended until August, further delayed until October, and eventually issued last month.

Clashed

The council’s plaza plans clashed with the “BusConnects” proposed redesign of the Dublin Bus network. The redesign proposes two-way bus services on Parliament Street. However, under the council’s plans this would have remained a one-way street because of air pollution risks.

Mr Brady said the council would “liaise” with Dublin Bus and Transport Infrastructure Ireland ahead of the submission of the new application to the board.

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