Photo by Caroline Brady

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Even before councillors blundered and failed to pass a local plan for Phibsboro, some local residents had been knocking around the idea of inviting experts in to draw up a grand vision for the area.

Last week, they announced a plan to do just that.

The hope, says Ciara Considine of the local group Reimagining Phibsboro, is that by “creating a tangible vision that people can engage with when we exhibit the results, it will hopefully lead to concrete changes”.

It’s more of a thought experiment, than anything binding.

But Reimagining Phibsboro, which has teamed up with the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, hopes it will help to encourage discussion among residents on the future use of the village space and how it may be improved.

The team behind the idea plans to invite in experts in planning, transportation, urban design, architecture and landscaping to draw up ideas.

On 1 March, there will be a workshop to address the main issues and open a forum to discuss problems relating to proposed changes. On 31 March, experts will present ideas. Contributors will then submit their work for the exhibition, which will be shown at the Phizzfest community arts festival in April.

Phibsboro is going through many changes, with the sale of Dalymount to Dublin City Council and the in-process sale of the shopping centre by NAMA. So, now seems like a good time.

The dilapidated built environment of this once dignified village impacts daily on the lives of thousands of people – many of us voters – and we’ve had enough,” said Considine of Reimagining Phibsborough.

We have seen two failed LAPs, and it is unacceptable. This design review is an example of people power, and we want to take it all the way to seeing real changes for the betterment of our residents’ lives, our environment and our local economy,” she said.

An Active Community

Over the last few years, residents have initiated clean-ups along the Royal Canal, planted flowers in disused phone boxes and attempted to revive community spirit through the organisation of events like Phizzfest. They’ve also raised concerns about how the village is dominated by cars.

The team behind the design review have set out a bit of what they are looking for. Their wishlist includes: their ideal height for the shopping centre, the creation of an “evening economy” of restaurants, the extension of the Dublin Bikes scheme, and a public plaza along the main strip.

The design review team are also “currently engaging with all parties in relation to the shopping centre and the future development of Dalymount,” says Considine.

There is a whole heap of changes that they have proposed at this early stage. Following the public review and professional contributions, the next stage will be to draw up development plans to issue to locals, councillors and Dublin City Council.

Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

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