Plans to turn Dublin's College Green into a car-free plaza have been rejected

The national planning body says the scheme would cause problems for buses and other transport.

By Fora Staff

AN BORD PLEANÁLA has refused planning permission for a proposed plaza at Dublin’s College Green that would have led to the city centre thoroughfare being largely pedestrianised.

The €10 million College Green plaza plan, put forward by Dublin City Council, would involve a ban on all private cars in that section of the city, with restrictions also placed on buses and taxis. The plans have been the subject of heated debate for some time

In its decision, An Bord Pleanála noted that, in principle, the development would “produce a quality public realm that would significantly enhance the amenity and attractiveness of this city centre location”. 

It also noted that it would “significantly improve the visual amenities of the area” and would have a positive effect on how people appreciated the architecture and cultural heritage of the site. 

However the national planning authority wasn’t satisfied that existing traffic analyses properly gauged the effects of the development. It said there would likely be significant negative impacts for bus transport in the city as well adverse impacts on pedestrians.

A report from the board’s inspector noted the plans would also affect access to car parks and hotels in the area.

“In respect of cycling and pedestrians, the impact arising from potential conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians and of buses and emergency vehicles with both groups are considered unacceptable from a safety point of view,” the inspector said.

In-principle support

In a statement, DublinTown said the plan had “significant merit”, however An Bord Pleanála shared the business group’s concerns about the accuracy of traffic analysis and the impact the plaza would have on transport.

“We still support the idea of a plaza in principle, but there is a need for greater coordination for planning around traffic interventions which also need to be clearly communicated to and understood by the wider public as part of a city-wide overall plan,” the group said.

Dublin Chamber head of public affairs Graeme McQueen said the lobby group had “always been support of the concept of a pedestrianised plaza at College Green, but we were never convinced by the plans that were put forward”.

“This is decision should not be seen as a victory for anyone. The traffic situation in Dublin, particularly around the core city centre, remains a daily problem for Dubliners that is significantly eroding peoples’ quality of life,” he said.

“The (board’s) decision is a result of decades of poor planning and significant under-investment in the city’s public transport network.”

Reporting by Sean Murray and Peter Bodkin.

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