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Dublin council supports proposal to turn derelict site into park

The site between Cork Street and Chamber Street in Dublin 8 could now become recreation space for Dublin 8 residents, pending a planning report.

The derelict site on Chamber Street in Dublin 8 which may be redeveloped into a public park.
The derelict site on Chamber Street in Dublin 8 which may be redeveloped into a public park.
Image: Ryan Bailey

THE REDEVELOPMENT OF a derelict site in Dublin city into a public park has moved a step closer after Dublin City Council (DCC) objected against its sale and unanimously supported the proposal.

The motion, which was passed in the name of Sinn Féin councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh and seconded by Labour’s Rebecca Moynihan, backs the proposal of turning the idle land – located between Cork Street and Chamber Street – into a recreation area for the residents of Dublin 8.

Dublin City Manager, Owen Keegan, had initiated the process to dispose of the site but the strong opposition from the chamber will now ensure the 1.2 acre site remains in the council’s possession.

Rezoning

A final decision on the rezoning of the land will be made in early 2014 when the council reconvenes and the necessary capital is secured. Councillor Moynihan has negotiated an initial budget of €75,000 for the development of recreational facilities in the South West Inner City but additional funds are expected to be required.

“There is still substantial work to do yet, but this is a big stepping stone. Our initial goal was to halt the sale of the site and now that that’s been achieved, we’re confident of getting the desired result,” Councillor Moynihan admitted.

Now is the council’s perfect opportunity to reverse some of the appalling damage done by developers over the past few decades with the Dublin 8 vicinity representing a concrete jungle and in dire need of a public amenity.

It’s claimed that initially there had been an invitation for expressions of interest for purchase and development of the site without the support of the chamber. The tender document asked potential developers to include an area for public use in their application.

The City Manager has now acknowledged the council’s stance and conceded the site won’t be sold contrary to original plans. “We won’t be proceeding with the disposal at this stage,” Keegan confirmed.

Report expected by February

While there is no exact timeline for the rezoning of the site, a report is expected to be presented to the council by February at the latest. Before compiling his recommendations, Keegan will factor in the suitability of the site for such a development and the overall cost to the council.

DCC have never fully financed the construction of a permanent public park without the support of private funding or schemes such as the National Lottery grants.

Over 1,000 residents have signed an online petition in an attempt to highlight their need for a recreational facility. Furthermore, several social media driven campaigns are now underway to try and convince the DCC that the investment would be a long-term strategic asset for the community.

“This area is one of the most deprived in our capital and an investment like this would have huge social and economic benefits for the wider community. Land is finite and to sell an invaluable resource when there is a desperate need for green space is a short-term vision,” Moynihan argued.

Safe and healthy environment needed

The acreage in question lies between Cork and Chamber Street and has been in the hands of DCC since the demolition of the council flats in November 2008. Its location on one of the principal arterial routes in and out of Dublin City adds to its significant value.

According to Central Statistics Office figures, there are 2,000 children under the age of eighteen without access to a safe and healthy environment for social recreation in the South West Inner City.

Colin Farmer, who has lived in the area for nearly a decade, is behind the ‘Cork Street Park’ campaign and admitted the area has experienced anti-social behaviour and hardship in recent years because of its lack of facilities.


This video shows a weekend of family activity held on the site in question in September this year (watch from 2:05). Via OutdoorCommunity.ie/Youtube.

“Since moving here, I’ve been struck down by the lack of green space available and the issue is compounded by the signs prohibiting children to play ball in the housing development’s commons areas,” he explained.

Welcome haven

“Cork Street, in particular, resembles a dual carriageway and having a park will provide a welcome haven for residents. Additionally, a community is built on social interaction and a public area would facilitate and encourage this.”

The high density housing district in Dublin 8 falls under the Liberties Local Area Plan, which aims to achieve social, economic and physical regeneration. However, other social issues have taken precedence in recent years.

The Dublin City Parks Department is responsible for the management of the fifty-three public parks – covering 1,400 hectares – in the capital. The provision and maintenance of these recreational facilities are accommodated for in their annual budget but funds for similar projects have all been donated by external sources.

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Ryan Bailey

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