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College Green Plaza refused permission: reasoning and reaction

An Bord Pleanála has refused permission for a plaza at College Green in Dublin.

An Bord Pleanála said: “The Board has concluded its consideration of the above-mentioned application. An Bord Pleanála has refused to approve the proposed development at College Green, Dublin.”

The inspector’s report said: “On the basis of the above assessment, I recommend that the Board Refuse to APPROVE the proposed development for the Reasons and Considerations set out below.”

  • “Significant shortcomings associated with the traffic modelling in relation to its reliability to accurately quantify the traffic impacts of the proposed development and the magnitude of those impacts,”
  • “Consequential uncertainty but likely significant negative impacts for bus transport, having regard to the scale of re-routing proposed, the critical importance of bus transport to the city, and, its future role in facilitating modal shift from private car usage in line with national policy,
  • “The identified and unresolved capacity issues on the Quays in relation to their capacity to accommodate the scale of bus re-routing proposed.”
  • “The restricted capacity of existing footpaths on both sides of the Quays to accommodate the significant volumes of pedestrians that would be re-directed onto the Quays as a result of bus re-routing, and the absence of clear proposals to address same,” said the report’s conclusions.

In its reasons and considerations, the board of An Bord Pleanála said: “It is considered that the principle of the proposed development is acceptable and that it would produce a quality public realm that would significantly enhance the amenity and attractiveness of this city centre location, would significantly improve the visual amenities of the area and would facilitate improved appreciation of the architectural and cultural heritage of this important site.”

But, the board said: “However, it is considered that:-

  • “Notwithstanding the use of the regional traffic model, the Board cannot be satisfied that the traffic analysis carried out, and the associated information provided, particularly at the local level, was sufficient to accurately quantify the traffic impacts of the proposed development and the magnitude of those impacts,”
  • “The consequent uncertainty but likely significantly negative impacts for bus transport, in the light of the scale of re-routing of buses proposed, the critical importance of bus transport to the city, and its future role in facilitating modal shift from public car usage, in line with national policy,”
  • “The identified and unresolved capacity issues on the Quays in relation to their capacity to accommodate the scale of bus re-routing proposed, and the failure to demonstrate that the existing footpaths on both sides of the Quays have the capacity to accommodate the increased numbers of pedestrians that would be re-directed onto the Quays as a result of bus re-routing,”

It added, that because of the above: “The proposed development would give rise to significant adverse impacts on pedestrians and on bus transport within the city centre and would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted: “Disappointed that An Bord Pleanála has rejected the College Green plaza. Hopefully Dublin City Council can work up a revised proposal.”

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on transport, Robert Troy said: “There was a very poor level of coordination and cooperation between the agencies dealing with the proposed College Green Plaza: the National Transport Authority, Dublin Bus and Dublin City Council.”

He added: “Major projects like this must be delivered more efficiently. Fianna Fáil has long called for the establishment of a Dublin Transport Authority to coordinate major infrastructure projects in the city and ensure on-time, efficient delivery.”

Ciarán Cuffe, Green Party councillor and chairman of the city’s transport committee, said: “Saddened to hear College Green Plaza turned down by Bord Pleanála. Back to the drawing board. We still desperately need more car-free child-friendly spaces in Dublin City.”

Dublin Town, a business group, said: “We received notification today that the College Green plaza plan has been refused by An Bord Pleanála. We noted that An Bord Pleanála clearly noted the same concerns that were expressed by DublinTown.”

On Twitter, the Dublin Cycling Campaign said: “Is there any hope now for a liveable Dublin? A mighty victory today for the greasy till fumblers!”

Green Party councillor for Fingal, Goderic O’Gorman said: “Gutted to hear this. Dubliners deserve a vibrant central plaza. Surely we can design a traffic system that allows us free up College Green?”

The planner’s and board’s detailed reasoning can be read at is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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Cian Ginty


  1. The Dublin Cycling Campaign tweet is almost designed to annoy significant numbers of people and should be removed. The only way to advance more cycle/walking areas is to bring people along with you. Insulting them online won’t help.

  2. In hindsight it was inevitable after the Liffey Cycle route disaster, DCC won’t make the hard decisions to give up road space to the majority, public transport users (buses, bikes, pedestrians). College Green should be the easy, highlight project after all the hard work of redesigning the quays, DCC can’t skip to the end point.

  3. Nothing is going to convince Dublin Town. At this stage I think it’s fair enough to point out the fact a lot of their arguments don’t make any sense in the hope that people will stop listening to them.

  4. So annoyed at this outcome. However, I have a feeling that this will be back on the table again sooner rather than later. It’s absolutely shocking to think that all the mistakes made to accommodate private CARS still goes on to deny citizens of Dublin and Ireland the opportunity to better utilise prime public space for the next generation. We have to be among the worst cities in Europe when it comes to providing useable public squares and improving air quality.

  5. Its funny how the planning board are all upset about disrupting busses in college green, when they are the people who allowed the trams disrupt busses in college green


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