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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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Council hails 'overwhelmingly positive' traffic-free College Green with plan to double space this Sunday

College Green in Dublin city centre will be traffic-free again this Sunday.

download (62) Barriers ringfence an area of Dame Street during last week's initial trial. Source: Stephen McDermott/TheJournal.ie

THE AMOUNT OF space accessible by the general public when College Green is closed off to traffic this weekend will be almost doubled on last week, Dublin City Council has said. 

Additional seating and more spaces will allow the public to “come in and linger in the area”, a spokesperson said.

This Sunday will see the second of three planned trials this summer where College Green in Dublin city centre is pedestrianised and closed to traffic for a 12-hour period.

The first trial was held last Sunday and the council was criticised over security barriers that blocked sections of Dame Street to pedestrians, despite being closed to traffic. 

Although the proposed plaza would extend from east to west between Trinity College and Anglsea Street, a large space between Fosters Place and Anglesea Street was initially ringfenced by barriers, preventing public access.

The idea was first proposed in 2016 and sought to ban all traffic in College Green, before being rejected by An Bord Pleanála last year over traffic concerns.

The council hasn’t abandoned plans for a permanent plaza and aims to lodge a fresh application with ABP this year.

A spokesperson for Dublin City Council told TheJournal.ie that the thinking behind these summer trials is for the public to “see what this space would be like if it was traffic free”. 

Last week’s trial was a “low-key event in order to give people a chance to experience the no-traffic environment and what the space could hopefully be transformed into if a plaza is approved for this area”. 

“Over 8,000 people took the opportunity to come in to the event space and the response was overwhelmingly positive,” the spokesperson said.

For this Sunday, “the event space will be almost doubled with additional seating and more spaces available for the public to come in and linger in the area”. 

The council said the priority of these trials is based on the experience of the public enjoying use of the plaza, rather than on the impact on traffic and transport in the capital. 

In rejecting the council’s application for a permanent civic plaza at College Green, an inspector from An Bord Pleanála noted that there would likely be a “significant and negative” impact on general traffic, bus transport, bus passengers, car parks, and also negatively impact hotel access and taxi drivers.

The planning authority also wasn’t satisfied that traffic analysis carried out accurately quantified the effects the development would have.

The council spokesperson added: “The prime purpose of these events is to make the space available for the public, the council will be assessing over the three weekends what lessons can be learned and what worked or didn’t work.”

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Sean Murray

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