Reclaiming College Green

Dublin

A Luas tram at College Green, Dublin. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

A Luas tram at College Green, Dublin. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The proverbial chickens have come home to roost in Dublin’s College Green. Plans to transform it into a “landmark civic plaza”, at an estimated cost of €10 million, seemed like such a good idea until the scheme ran into sustained opposition from sectional interests – taxi drivers, department stores, hotels, multi-storey car park operators and even Dublin Bus. The fact that there are an unprecedented 70 “notice parties” involved in An Bord Pleanála’s current public inquiry, each with its own agenda – both for and against – speaks for itself. Indeed, it is a measure of how fractious Dubliners can become when faced with decisions about the allocation of road space in the city centre.

The council’s case for the plaza has not been helped by the chaos that attended the introduction of Luas Cross City trams on the eastern side of College Green

Incredibly, senior officials of Dublin City Council originally planned to proceed with the pedestrian plaza under the Roads and Traffic Acts, under which there would have been no need for any statutory public consultation. But the knock-on consequences of the scheme, including the diversion of bus routes and other traffic from College Green, made an environmental impact assessment inevitable. Parliament Street, for example, was to be turned into a two-way bus corridor carrying up to 1,600 buses per day. This is no longer being proposed, for the simple reason that the pollution emitted by diesel-powered buses would likely exceed EU air quality standards.

People with disabilities expressed concern about the proposed two-way cycle track on three sides of the plaza. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
"The worthy prize of reclaiming College Green as a great civic space demands more than simply repeating assurances that everything will work out just fine when the plan is implemented." File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The council’s case for the plaza has not been helped by the chaos that attended the introduction of Luas Cross City trams on the eastern side of College Green, competing with buses, taxis and cyclists. Neither has it been served by the proliferation of steel poles, catenaries and utility boxes that have severely compromised the visual amenity of Dublin’s premier civic space. If this ambitious scheme is to proceed, the council will have to convince An Bord Pleanála that it is capable of being implemented, without such downsides as a doubling of bus journey times in the city centre.

The worthy prize of reclaiming College Green as a great civic space demands more than simply repeating assurances that everything will work out just fine when the plan is implemented.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.