— A councillor described parts of the project as being like “Marmite”.
— Heated exchange between a councillor and a senior official.
Living Streets Dún Laoghaire is not an active travel project but a town rejuvenation project with active travel elements, a senior council official has said to councillors today.
Conor Geraghty, a senior engineer with the council’s Active Travel team was presenting to the Dun Laoghaire Area Committee meeting of local councillors. An update of the plan was shown and construction, if approved, to start in 2024. It is part of a Pathfinder project to accelerate climate action.
Geraghty said that it is quite an “ambitious project” and that the project is planned to be progressed using Part 8 of the planning acts, which requires councillor approval.
The project update was received with mixed reactions from councillors and a heated exchange between one councillor and a senior official who said that the councillor’s comments undermined his team — see the councillor reaction section below.
A key element of the project includes the pedestrianisation of 220m George’s Street Lower from the junction with Patrick’s St to St Michael’s Hospital with deliveries until 11am each day. This will include new paving, greenery and formal areas for seating.
Modal filters — which allow only people walking and cycling to pass — are planned on Tivoli Road, Cross Avenue, and Clarinda Park West. Motoring access will be maintained to all houses around the filters and in the wider area.
The removal of through traffic is planned to make it safer for people walking, wheeling, and cycling and link with existing and planned routes in the area.
The reversal of traffic flow on Windsor Terrace, which is a part of the Living Streets Coastal Mobility Route project will also help allow for some of the changes.
On proposed changes to Clarinda Park, the presentation to councillors said: “The two car parking areas within Clarinda Park are proposed to be removed to re-instate the park to its historical boundaries and facilitate the improvement works to the park.”
If you value our journalism, please subscribe today.
Council officials said that this will create more green space, with new tree planting, biodiversity areas,
seating, and play areas Around 110 new trees are to be planted and the presentation states that there “will be 202 public car parking spaces available on-street in the wider area” on the streets around the park which is “compared to the previous 269.” This is one of the most contentious issues councillors raised.
Some bus routing will be needed as George’s Street Lower will be pedestrianised — officials said that “Routes 46A, 63 and 75 will start and finish at the Dun Laoghaire DART station, they will use Crofton Road and York Road in both directions, no longer looping back via Marine Road and George’s Street Lower. There will be three new bus stops provided on Crofton Road and York Road.”
Those routes will use the Marine Road roundabout to allow buses to return the same way as they arrived instead of looping back via George’s Street Lower.
Officials said that a user travel survey was conducted in May last to “examine possible impacts on patients and visitors to the hospital arising from the removal of the bus stop” located outside Argos and opposite St Michael’s Hospital.
“On average, 8 people each day (2% total daily visitors) get off at the Argos bus stop” and “78% of those said they were willing to change bus stop if the Argos stop was removed”. Officials said, that based on this, it was “deemed that there is not sufficient demand to justify an alternative service eg shuttle bus, rickshaw, etc to take people from nearest alternative stop to the hospital.”
The presentation said that Routes 7, 7a, 59, 111 will also use Crofton Road in both directions, Marine Road and Georges Street Upper, but no longer George’s Street Lower, while it added that the 45a to/from Bray “will remain unchanged”.
Council officials have said that the planning work undertaken so-far includes traffic modelling which shows preferred modal filter locations and traffic flows, options assessment, a preliminary business case, AA and EAI screening and determinations, engineering and architectural layouts, bus routing options which has led to agreement with National Transport Authority, pre-design public engagement including dedicated meetings, and St Michael’s Hospital transport survey.
Cllr Melisa Halpin (People Before Profit) said that the issue was a “hot topic” on the streets of the town with people on both sides. She said that she thinks that there will be “a lot of problems” with traffic. She asked if councillors had to be consulted before the Part 8 planning process started with public consultation.
Geraghty said that the role of councillors was after public consultation and that the plan has been adapted after feedback from the public already.
Cllr Frank McNamara (Fine Gael) said he thought the one-way streets should be going in the same direction and he asked when parking spaces were removed would more be installed in another area.
Geraghty said that the benefit of the one-way system as planned would alleviate existing traffic issues and give priority to buses.
Cllr Lorraine Hall (Fine Gael) asked if officials had looked at traffic calming on Glenageary Road to offset the predicted increase in traffic on that road.
She said that as one of the only councillors living in the Dún Laoghaire area, she welcomed the project and said that the trial showed more people visiting George’s Street. Cllr Hall that there will still be plenty of roads to access the town and 4,500 parking spaces in the town, and that councillors should also think of people accessing the town by foot and bicycle.
Cllr Dave Quinn (SocDems) said that parts of the project will be “Marmite” with some people disliking and others loving it. He congratulated everybody involved with developing the plan but said he was disappointed that there would be no provision of a tuk-tuk or similar service going around in a circle.
Geraghty said that he’d support something like a rickshaw doing a loop but he would think that it should take in a larger area and that could not be accommodated within the Part 8 process which is limited to the project area plan.
Cllr Mary Fayne (Fine Gael) said that she knows of a pharmacist who is upset with the project and has started a group to oppose the changes. She questioned the access to the hospital and said it doesn’t matter how few people it affects per month.
Cllr Justin Moylan (Fianna Fáil) said that he accepted that there would be modal change but that some of the rest of the traffic had to go somewhere. He also asked if the emergency services had been consulted.
Geraghty said that the council were trying to make it safer and more attractive for people to cycle as an alternative to using their car.
He said that if councillors want to see through traffic maintained in the area it would be up to them to make that change but that would be against local and national policy.
Cllr Juliet O’Connell (Labour) said that people were all for climate action but then focused on car parking. She said she knows business owners who are upset with the plan and mentioned parents with children and old pensioners who needed their cars.
She also said that she was fully supportive of biodiversity but said that there was such in the local parks.
Cllr O’Connell — who was repeatedly warned she was over her time — said that she was not against Living Streets but that she wanted to put a twist on the issues that aren’t always heard.
Cllr Una Power (Green Party) said when she was pregnant the bus was faster when it avoided George’s Street as part of the trial.
Cllr Michael Clark (Fianna Fáil) said that he fears for the future of the town and said that the council might as well rebrand the county “Dundrum-Rathdown”.
Geraghty said that when they talked to businesses about pedestrianising George’s Street, they wanted a traffic plan and officials developed such using policy as a guide.
He said that councillors can vote to keep the car access the same, but he thinks the area could be better served. He said that people preferred the situation with the trail of George’s Street.
Cllr Marie Baker (Fine Gael) asked if it was all or nothing in terms of councillors approving or changing the plan. Geraghty said if too many changes were made, the National Transport Authority could withdraw funding but that councillors could fund such a changed project out of the council’s own budget.
Cllr Denis O’Callaghan (Labour) said that he was mainly receiving emails in favour of the project overall and asked if there was a need to extend Clarinda Park and remove the project there.
Cllr Jim Gildea (Fine Gael) said he agreed with councillors who are negative towards the project. He said that he could understand the removal of cars from George’s Street, but not buses.
Cllr Tom Kivlehan (Green) said that climate change requires changes and that this project is minor compared to the overall change needed. He said that people — including those parties in Government — need to be responsible.
Cllr Gildea interrupted to say that he was not totally against the plan and another councillor claimed “nobody was”.
Geraghty asked Cllr Gildea to withdraw his comments that the presentation included “propaganda” in reference to a video of residents giving feedback on a previous modal filter project at Eden Park (see below), but Cllr Gildea said he was refusing to do so. Geraghty said that officials would have to withdraw from the meeting if there was no apology.
He said that when councillors undermined officials in such a way, officials then get that back in the street and online. Geraghty said that the video was made by sending a camera crew to the area and it was not scripted.
Cllr Gildea said that the video was one-sided. He said that he would leave the meeting and did so.
Cllr Quinn said that he used to live near the modal filter at Eden Park and that he knows that people in the area are highly supportive of the outcome of the project.
Cllr Denis O’Callaghan, An Cathaoirleach, added that he was supportive of the work the officials have done.