Some local residents can be determined, others tenacious. Some plant flowers to brighten up their village. Others request that potholes be fixed.

And then there are those who re-imagine their town altogether.

A Community Vision

Even though the Local Area Plan for Phisboro failed to pass at council last year, some residents have been determined to see the village improved. Or, at least, to start a discussion on the future infrastructure and look of the neighbourhood.

Now, after several months of planning, the Reimagining Phibsboro campaign has opened an exhibition of designs and ideas on how to improve the built environment around the shopping centre and the council-owned Dalymount Park.

They invited town planners, architects and engineers to draw up designs and potential improvements, and the results are now on display at the Darc Space gallery on North Great George’s Street.

The proposals cover how to fix neighbourhood issues such as traffic flow, a lack of proper pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure as well as improvements to amenities and green spaces.

While some of the designs and suggestions are on a small scale, others are more ambitious; several models and boards offer a complete redesign of Dalymount stadium and a new civic space around a revamped Phibsboro shopping centre.

Dalymount Park is, after all, set for a €20 million redevelopment while the often derided shopping centre was recently purchased by MM Capital from NAMA for €15 million.

The designs put forward are unofficial, but the campaign team hope architects and those who are behind the real developments will have a look and take them into account.

Soft Power

“The idea would be that we’d try and tie this in with discussions with the council, the people who bought the shopping centre and the National Transport Authority,” said Ralph Bingham of MOLA Architecture, who is a Phibsoro resident and one of the contributors to the show.

“The idea as well is to get short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives into DCC’s development plan, even small actions that make a big difference,” he said.

Last week, the Draft Local Environmental Improvements Plan (LEIP) for Phibsboro was circulated among local councillors.

Many of the suggestions have been transferred from the failed LAP into this LEIP, which is a five-year working document that sets out to “focus on identifying a range of actions and/or programmes to improve the local environment” or public realm.

The designs on display at the Reimagining Phibsboro exhibition imagine further potential improvements and their proponents hope the council will take those ideas on board as the LEIP moves forward.

“There is a cross-over between the two,” says Bingham of MOLA. “We’re meeting DCC on Wednesday to see are there any additional ideas that need to be added into [the LEIP].”

An LEIP committee will be set up soon to determine how best to move the draft document along, said Green Party councillor Ciarán Cuffe, who says he hopes that the city council will look at this exhibition with a view to implementing some of the recommendations.

“The big project from a city council perspective is Dalymount Park and there’s some great ideas for Dalymount Park in [the exhibition],” he says. “But there’s also a lot of small-scale initiatives, relating to footpaths and tree planting, that could quite neatly fit into the Local Environment Improvement Plan.”

If you want to check it out, the exhibition runs until 9 July.

Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

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