— Limited access between Stoneybatter, Grangegorman and Constitution Hill continues to flout planning condition.
A long-awaited east-west walking and cycling access through the Grangegorman campus in central Dublin was opened today but with opening hours that excludes rush hours.
The new link should give more direct walking and safer cycling access from Stoneybatter to the core of the city centre via the new shared path between Grangegorman Lower and Constitution Hill.
An Bord Pleanála put a strong focus on access to the Grangegorman development area — which houses Dublin Institute of Technology, a HSE health care unit, a school, public playing pitches and a playground — but the development has been on-going for years working outside the conditions set down in its planning conditions.
In a condition for approval for the development project, An Bord Pleanála said: “These accesses are necessary to ensure that the new Quarter integrates successfully into the existing community, to waymark the campus, to provide permeability through the site and to ease undue pressure on the existing circulation network in the area. These accesses are considered essential to the successful implementation of the planning scheme. The opening up of these accesses prior to the occupation of the facilities by the DIT students is a prerequisite of the planning scheme.”
In November 2016, the planning enforcement section of Dublin City Council — which is supposed to enforce conditions set by An Bord Pleanála — was told by the Grangegorman development team at that the east-west access was under construction, that agreement has been reached with CIÉ to relocate their parking areas and that the works were being carried out as part of the Luas Cross City Works being delivered by Transport Infrastructure Ireland.
It was claimed that works had not started before then because the lands were “not in public ownership” and that the “works would render the access unusable at this stage” — this is despite large tracks of lands being owned by the HSE and CIE, two bodies fully controlled by the State, and that the planning authority made the access points a prerequisite.
Two years later the temporary path is now opening with limited hours.
The Grangegorman Development Agency said on its website: “The Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe TD officially opened the new link between Grangegorman and Constitution Hill this morning, Friday 16 November. This new link, while temporary, is historic, as it is the first time the Grangegorman site will link directly to the north inner city.”
“It will be possible to walk from the campus to Bolton Street in 9 minutes. The Grangegorman Development Agency would like to thank the HSE, DIT, Dublin City Council, Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, CIE, the National Transport Authority and Transport infrastructure Ireland for helping to make this happen,” the authority added.
On Facebook, the Grangegorman Development Agency said: “Just to let everyone know the new link to Constitution Hill will be open from 9am to 4pm from Monday 19th November. After a settling in period the aim will be to extend those opening times. From next week signs will be put up on the gates indicating current opening times.”
Responding to members of the public on Facebook, the Agency said: “No the link will not be open 24/7. Initially it will be open from 9am to 4pm and after some time of bedding in we will look to extending the opening times… We are beginning with restricted opening but our aim will be to extend the opening times once we see how it is working.”
In the planning conditions, An Bord Pleanála also went to great lengths to highlight the importance of walking and cycling access between Grangegorman and Prussia Street in Stoneybatter. The planners gave it equal access as the other main “gateway” access points. “Prussia Street” is mentioned 25 times in the planning condition modifications made by An Bord Pleanála.
However, the access via Tesco is walking only and the access via Fingall Place has a barrier which hinders bicycle access, especially child-carrying or other larger bicycles. When it was pointed out to Dublin City Council’s planning section that the access was limited by time when there was no allowance for such a restriction in the planning process, no response has been received.
It is understood that the planning enforcement section is or was recently investigating the access to Grangegorman.
IMAGE: Brian Norton President DIT; Annette Murphy of the HSE; Minister Paschal Donohoe; and, Ger Casey, CEO GDA. Image from the Grangegorman Development Agency.