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Dublin: 3 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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Future of College Green: Council CEO says gradual changes will lead to 'completely traffic-free area'

Dubin City Council’s plans for a pedestrianised plaza were rejected in October.

The proposed College Green Plaza looking from Trinity College.
The proposed College Green Plaza looking from Trinity College.
Image: Dublin City Council

COLLEGE GREEN IN Dublin will likely be traffic-free in the future, Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan has said, despite the recent rejection of the proposed pedestrianised plaza.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Keegan said that he reacted with “acute disappointment” to An Bord Pleanála’s (ABP) decision last month to refuse permission for a European-style space at the front of Central Bank but that a plaza – at least in part – is likely in the future. 

“The council is absolutely determined that it cannot accommodate east-west traffic through College Green given the existing volume of north-south traffic,” said Keegan. 

There is also a need to cater for the longer 55-metre Luas trams, several of which have already come into operation. 

Under the envisioned pedestrian and cycle plaza – which the council spent €1.5 million on – all traffic would be banned from entering Dame Street via College Green. 

North-south traffic would have remained. Buses and taxis would still run along the same line as the Luas between Nassau Street and Westmoreland Street. 

In its final decision, ABP raised a number of concerns and rejected the plan due to the knock-on effect the plaza would have on traffic in general and on bus traffic in particular.

“[The board] had no issue with the plaza per se,” said Keegan. “We felt that they should have been judging on the basis of the plaza. We’d given them all the traffic management changes.”

Last week, councillors called on officials not to abandon the plaza project. 

‘Plaza in part’ 

Council officials are currently sifting through 200 pages of documentation relating to that decision and that three options have been identified, Keegan has said. 

One option is to submit a new plan to An Bord Pleanála. Another is to implement traffic management changes to address demands.

Finally, the council is considering seeking a judicial review of the board’s decision and has until December to decide on that option. 

Keegan has said “failing that [we'll look at] what alternative means we have of ensuring delivery of the plaza”.

“We can sit back and do nothing and watch the entire city centre come to a halt or we can proactively seek to manage that.”

Over time, footpaths in the area could be widened and parts of the area pedestrianised, according to Keegan. “It’s likely that we’ll build part of the plaza.” 

Changes could produce a “sterile area” at College Green over time, said Keegan. 

In which case we might as well put a plaza there.

“Something has to be done. In transportation in Dublin, there are no easy options left. Difficult decisions have to be made,” Keegan has said. 

“I think you can anticipate a series of traffic management changes gradually being implemented that will keep traffic moving north-south.”

“In time it will have the effect of creating a completely traffic-free area in front of the Bank of Ireland.”

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