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Car Park or Artists’ Studios?
Councillors representing the south-east of the city said they wanted to see other options for a patch of land in Beggars Bush off Shelbourne Road before they would agree to continue to rent it out as a car park.
A report from Dublin City Council Executive Manager Paul Clegg set out a proposal for the council to continue to lease the 270-square-metre site to Eir, as it has done since 2003.
The patch, which lies behind a four-storey building used by Eir, has been assessed as being “unsuitable for housing”, according to the report. The council would charge Eir €23,000 a year in rent.
Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne asked why the site was being leased for parking in the first place. “I just have a fundamental issue with council-owned land being leased for parking,” she said at the council’s South East Area Committee meeting on Monday.
Was the parking for Eir staff or service vehicles, and what would happen to the land if Eir moved from the area? she asked.
Also, why wasn’t the company being charged €25,000, as it had been under its first lease, from 2003 to 2008? she asked.
“While it might not work for housing, could we consider it for another option, such as artists’ studios?” Byrne asked.
Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn called the report “slim”. It didn’t look at other uses for the site, he said – an issue councillors have raised before.
“There are other uses for this. It could have safe parking for bicycles, you could have a women’s or men’s shed,” he said. Councillors should reject the report, Flynn said.
Councillor Kevin Donoghue, of Labour, said the council had passed a motion before, saying that reports in these instances should outline alternative uses for sites.
Keeping a Closer Eye on Ringsend
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should have a full-time presence in Ringsend, said councillors at the South East Area Committee meeting on Monday.
Tabling a motion, Fine Gael Councillor Danny Byrne said he had been prompted to do so by the slow response to a leak from the Ringsend Wastewater Plant, and issues with the Poolbeg incinerator.
On a Saturday in February, one of the tanks at the plant failed, and sludge leaked out into the lower Liffey estuary.
At the meeting, Byrne said he was aware that Irish Water had only reported the incident days later. He’d asked Irish Water to confirm this, he said.
“It took them two weeks to get come back and tell me it was reported on the Monday,” he says. “The EPA arrived on the site on the Tuesday. This is absolutely outrageous and unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, the Poolbeg incinerator “broke its [environmental] licence on its first week”, says Byrne. That was another prompt.
If plans to build 3,500 homes in the Poolbeg Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) come to fruition, that would add dust into the area too, he says. “A number of residents have approached me about that in particular.”
Councillors agreed the motion.
A spokesperson for the EPA said, by email, later, that it has a regional inspectorate in Clonskeagh, which is 5km from Ringsend.
It regularly undertakes site visits, including audits, air monitoring and water monitoring as appropriate, a spokesperson said, with site-visit information on the EPA website. The majority of visits are unannounced, an EPA report says.
“Licensees are also required to notify the EPA of any environmental incidents,” they said.
A Makeover for Kimmage
Kimmage Village should get a makeover, said Social Democrats Councillor Tara Deacy, at the council’s South East Area Committee meeting on Monday.
Other councillors on the committee agreed, but it was unclear where the money for such a project might come from.
Some councillors said the council had neglected Kimmage because the village had kind of fallen between two stools – split between the council’s South Central and South East administrative areas. (With changes to the areas’ boundaries earlier this year, that’s no longer the case.)
Deacy tabled a motion asking councillors to support Kimmage’s enhancement as a capital project under the council’s public-realm strategy. “I feel that over the past 10 years, Kimmage hasn’t done very well,” she said, at the meeting.
Compared to neighbouring areas, it’s lacking aesthetically, socially and in a community sense, Deacy said.
She said she was unhappy with the initial response from officials. They said it would be done “under the discretionary fund if such monies were made available”, she said.
“It’s a bit vague,” Deacy said. She was also told that it would be difficult because of private businesses, she said.
Independents 4 Change Councillor Pat Dunne spoke to support the motion, blaming local-authority area boundaries. “Neither area committee actually gave it any real attention.”
Kimmage could heed the example of regeneration plans in Crumlin Village, Dunne said, which had similar issues with private sites in disrepair. “We were able to get over that in Crumlin Village.”
The area’s history needed to be remembered too, he said.
Where the SuperValu sits now was once the site of Larkfield, a farm and mill owned by nationalist Joseph Mary Plunkett’s family.
Larkfield served as a clearing station for arms smuggled into Howth in 1914, as a training camp for Volunteers, where the Kimmage Garrison made “bullets, pikes and bombs in billy-cans” for the 1916 Rising.
“There’s no acknowledgement of that in Kimmage,” Dunne said.
Chairing the second half of the meeting, Fine Gael Councillor Anne Feeney said she endorsed the motion.
Council Senior Executive Officer John MacEvilly said he agreed the area could do with “some type of makeover”.
“In terms of capital funding, Crumlin Village is costing in the region of €600,000,” he said, about the Crumlin Village Environmental Improvement Scheme. “That’s massive money.”
The council could look at capital funding for the Kimmage project too, he said. “But that’s significant funding, what happened in Crumlin.”
MacEvilly agreed to meet with councillors and community stakeholders.
Feeney suggested they meet after Dublin City Council’s budget for the coming year is agreed and it’s clear how much discretionary funding each area office will have.
“I thought it’d be really interesting to establish some facts,” Willie White, director of the Dublin Theatre Festival, said on Monday.
He was asking members of Dublin City Council’s arts committee to back a motion asking the council to audit the “spaces for culture in the city” and capture what had changed over the past 10 years – which members of the committee then did.
The idea came from the discussion around “changes in the cultural infrastructure in the city” following the announcement of the closure of the Bernard Shaw, he said, referring to the pub on South Richmond Street (the team now have a similar pub in Phibsboro).
White listed a number of cultural spaces that have closed over the last 20 years, including the SFX Hall, the Tivoli Theatre, the Andrew’s Lane Theatre, and the City Arts Centre.
“It seems to me, anecdotally, that there is less cultural infrastructure in the city than there was 20 years ago,” he said.
Labour Councillor Rebecca Moynihan said it’s not a “massive piece of research” and was something the council was meant to look at anyway.
But what would count as a cultural space? Councillors brought up community centres, sports facilities, and spaces for non-traditional art forms, like street art.
Green Party Councillor Lawrence Hemmings said, “We ought to benchmark Dublin against a city that is similar in some way in terms of population and urban space.”
Said Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam: “It’s important we make use of the information and use that for the development of the next development plan.”
Some of the work has already been done by the Dublin City Council Culture Company, said Assistant Chief Executive Richard Shakespeare.
The project, called Culture Near You, is set to launch later this year. “It has basically been a cultural mapping audit,” Shakespeare said. “I think a lot of the baseline work has been done.”
But an important part of the proposed audit is “trying to ascertain what was actually lost”, said independent Councillor Mannix Flynn.
White said he’s aware of Culture Near You, but it’s consumer focused, he said. What he wants is a more technical document for those looking at how to shape culture in the city.
“It’s to mark what was lost but also to consider what does a city like Dublin thinks is an adequate level of provision for culture,” he said.
Councillors agreed the motion, with an amendment from Labour Councillor Mary Freehill to have an update on cultural spaces at the start of every arts committee meeting.