Council Briefs: a New Look for Dolphin's Barn, Ballymun Shopping Centre, and More

A New Look for Dolphin’s Barn

Dublin city councillors voted to press ahead with changes to streets and roads at Dolphin’s Barn in the south of the city, at Monday’s full council meeting.

The plans, which are focused on the intersection with South Circular Road, include landscaping and trees, as well as changes to footpaths and kerbs, pulling down some fences and barriers, and putting in designated parking for cars and bikes.

A key measure is linking up a long pocket park that is already there, and a park by the church, which will “make both more accessible”, according to the architects’ design report.

At the northern end of this stretch of space, at the junction of South Circular Road and Dolphin’s Barn, plans show a new cafe, on the site of a disused public toilet.

Source: Dublin City Council

Some of those who weighed in at an earlier stage raised concerns about how there weren’t changes to the layout of cycle lanes as part of the plan. Dublin Cycling Campaign said it ignored the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan.

The architects’ designs suggest making sure cycle lanes that are broken at the moment are joined up.

The National Transport Authority said in its submission that the public-realm improvements fit with the bus corridor they plan to run through there.

It’s great to see progress, said Independents 4 Change councillor Pat Dunne. But there’s still an eyesore to be sorted – the former council buildings that councillors agreed to sell in 2015, with the proviso that the developer get cracking on building work fast.

“It is still vacant,” says Dunne. He asked what the council is doing about it.

Head of Planning Richard Shakespeare gave a one-line response. “My colleague Helen MacNamara is pursuing the matter at the moment,” he said.

Dunne looked around with a baffled expression, and threw up his hands.

A Shopping Centre Tsar

Somebody needs to be made responsible for what happens next with the site of the Ballymun shopping centre, said Fianna Fáil Councillor Paul McAuliffe.

There needs to be a single place for interested investors to go, said McAuliffe. “Somebody’s head needs to be on the block.”

Councillors voted on Monday night to press ahead with the demolition of the shopping centre in the heart of the neighbourhood. There is still a big question mark over what comes next.

“It really needs to be developed as soon as possible,” said independent Councillor Noeleen Reilly. She wants to see a plan for marketing the land for shops and homes. “It is the jewel in the crown of Ballymun, that piece of land.”

Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn said the vacant site should be used in the meantime, for gardening or markets.

Local residents deserve respect for the dereliction they have had to live with, he says. They were handed a “pig in a poke” with past promises of development.

Homes on Fishamble Street

Councillors gave the nod to plans to build a five-storey block with five apartments on Fishamble Street. (An earlier plan for citizen-led homes there failed take off.)

Some residents of nearby Smock Alley Court had written in to say they were concerned about the impact on their homes from issues such as noise and overlooking.

Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey said he supported the new homes. But he asked whether Wood Quay, or Smock Alley Theatre, could be made available more as meeting places for those who live nearby. “This is a community with no community facilities,” he said.

Magic Housing Figures

Independent Councillor Ruairi McGinley said council officials had some numerical wizardry, when at Monday’s meeting councillors got onto talking about figures around social housing.

Some of the discussion turned on voids, and who funds doing them up. Head of Housing Brendan Kenny said that fewer than 500 homes were “voids” – council jargon for vacant council homes – which is less than 2 percent of stock. (In the past, what they counted as void was questionable.)

McGinley said these figure are magical. The council’s “delivery targets” are for 800 voids to be restored every year between 2018 and 2021 – making up roughly 12 percent of its target for total housing “outturn”.

“I don’t know what part of the thin air he is going to generate the extra 300 voids out of,” he said. Voids are vacant social homes which somebody has just moved out of, and are refurbished before they are relet, so shouldn’t be counted in delivery targets, some say.

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Lois Kapila: Lois Kapila is Dublin Inquirer's editor and general assignment reporter. She covers housing and land, too. Want to share a comment or a tip? You can reach her at [email protected]

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