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Council wants to know if you like their plan for Grafton Street

The whole area is to undergo a revamp and improvement – Dublin City Council have published their vision for it.

WITH NEW PAVING marking the first stage of a revamp of Grafton Street, Dublin City Council have published their plans for the rest of the area.

The Grafton Street Quarter Draft Public Realm Plan can now be viewed on gsq.ie and was announced yesterday by Dublin Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn.

The draft document covers the whole process – from eliciting feedback from the public to how the area will be affected by transport changes, suggestions for street art and the “greening” of the area.

It outlines the “significant problems” experienced by the Grafton Street area including “too many service-type outlets, phone shops, convenience and fast food outlets, combined with the presence of standardised chains with little sensitivity to the need for thoughtful design”. High rents are forcing out independent retailers, the document notes.

By contrast, it is noted that areas around Grafton Street – such as Wicklow Street, South William Street and east Dawson Street – have some character and individuality and have seen some interesting new retail and dining businesses pop up there in recent times.

A team of researchers spent six months asking people on the street around Grafton Street what they would like to see done with the area. Workshops with local businesses and staff were also held to elicit suggestions. Here were some of the findings:

  • “There was widespread appreciation for the area’s historical qualities, the characters of the pubs and the general sense of tradition and ambience. Buskers, flower sellers, the redbrick historic buildings and the variety of building styles were all mentioned as specific contributors.”
  • “The intimacy of the place was repeatedly mentioned with many people expressing their pleasure of the little alleyways and small streets… but there needed to be more ease of movement from one street to another.”
  • “There was an overwhelming call for pedestrianisation.”
  • “A greater emphasis on using the streets themselves as social spaces were regularly expressed, with tables, chairs, areas on streets to socialise and to casually meet others, or even to hold events.”
  • “A better balance between the commercial retail offer in the area and the cultural offer.”
  • “There was a very strong call to reverse the ‘downgrade’ of Grafton Street and its environs.
  • “The negative effect of vacant shops was repeatedly mentioned.”
  • “Better quality street planting and greenery… need for more civic space or a public plaza.”
  • “While in general terms the Quarter is perceived as safe, a great number of users expressed dissatisfaction at any form of hassle, most participants were referring to ‘chuggers’ and beggars.”

As a result, the Council has said it is looking at:

  • strengthening pedestrian routes
  • improving access to and from shopping areas,
  • encouraging retailers to use upper floors of buildings too with restaurants, cafés, galleries etc
  • improve shop front design
  • address vacant units on South Anne Street and encourage “higher order retail outlets”
  • proposed new street to link Fade Street and South Great George’s Street area via South William Street and and Clarendon Street and the Westbury Hotel to Harry Street and Grafton Street
  • encourage more active use of retail and shops on Clarendon Street
  • preserve and restore the Georgian character of South William Street
  • encourage further growth of independent, niche, design-oriented shops and design strategy on South William Street
  • possibly create a new space at Johnson’s Place/Stephen’s Street Lower (the triangle where Peter’s pub is) to replicate what has happened at the pedestrianised Coppinger Row and Castle Market
  • create standards for street furniture on Wicklow Street, make that street more pedestrian-friendly (especially at road junctions) and possibly make a new pedestrian route from Wicklow Street across to St Andrew’s Church through South Anne Street
  • Dawson Street and Molesworth Street also come in for scrutiny for not being pedestrian-friendly enough
  • South Great George’s Street needs to have high levels of vacant units addressed; the Council also wants to reach agreement on a direct pedestrian link between George’s Street and Dublin Castle at the little laneway (George’s Court) to the left of Decwells hardware shop.

More plans for Grafton Street itself – including paving, streetscaping, landscaping, lighting and artwork – are elaborated upon in the plan. Detailed maps of proposed new pedestrianised routes and laneways are also visible there.

The Council is giving the public until 15 November to make a submission on the draft document. Send your thoughts to Frank Lambe, Project Manager, South East Area, Block 2, Floor 4, Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8 or by email to graftonstreetquarter@dublincity.ie.

There is also a public art competition for all designers or artists to apply for three commissions to design three pieces of street furniture for the area. You can find out details about that here.

Council wants to know if you like their plan for Grafton Street
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