Council Briefs: Cycling Projects Update, Potential Masterplan for Land at Ballymount, and Homelessness Task Force

Progress on Cycle Projects

At Monday’s meeting of the full council, City Engineer John Flanagan, issued a report to councillors about four major cycling projects in the city, which have planning permission approved but where progress seems slow.

The projects are being held up by “the unwieldy public consultation process,” as well as the fact that each time the council does a cycling infrastructure project it has to upgrade the water supply, drainage, flood protection and the public domain, says the report.

“There is an obvious need to speed up the delivery of the infrastructure in line with the anticipated significant increases in funding envisaged in the programme for government,” says the report.

Phase two of the Royal Canal Greenway is “substantially complete”, says the report. Phase three requires environmental surveys which are underway and the council hopes to tender for the builders there in December 2020.

The council has tendered for builders for the Dodder Greenway, from Herbert Park to Donnybrook and the closing date is 28 October 2020.

So that contract should be awarded in December 2020 and construction work could start there in January 2021, says the report.

“This is a proposal that has huge agreement right across the area,” says Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey. Despite that, the plans have not progressed during the life of the last three council terms, he says.

The council plans to tender for construction of the Clontarf-to-city centre cycle track next month, says the report. But funding arrangements have not yet been finalised.

Several councillors asked what the hold up was there. “It was to have started in the first quarter of this year and it has been delayed,” said Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney.

Cooney says she has spoken to the Minister for Transport, Green Party TD Eamon Ryan, who told her that there was no issue with the funding for the scheme, so she wanted to know exactly what was delaying the project going ahead.

A new plan for the cycle track was announced on 29 May this year, which included an extension in cycling infrastructure, larger bus lanes and a new drainage system for rainwater.

The council has submitted a business plan and “we are anticipating at the moment that we will get the green light in November,” says Dublin City Council Traffic Manager Brendan O’Brien.

“It is quite a complex project involving other agencies,” he says.

The Point Junction Improvement scheme got planning approval in 2015, for the section of the road that runs from the Tom Clarke Bridge to its junction with Sheriff Street Upper.

The permission was for one-way cycle tracks on both sides of the East Wall Road.

But the council has decided that a two-way cycle track on the west side of the East Wall Road would be better, so it is working on a new plan.

Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam, wanted to know the timeline for that scheme. It is urgent because the roundabout at Point Junction is “a particularly dangerous place for cyclists”, he says.

A Potential Masterplan

A potential masterplan to develop 649 hectares of land was presented to the planning committee in Dublin City Council on Tuesday 30 September.

The lands are beside each other at Ballymount, Naas Road, Cherry Orchard and Park West and are mostly zoned for industrial and employment uses.

A multidisciplinary team, funded by the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, will investigate the potential to create a landbank at these locations and to rezone it for homes.

The lands are split across Dublin City Council and South Dublin County Council areas. They are situated around five miles from the city centre and are serviced by a train station at Cherry Orchard and the Red Line Luas.

The aim is to “provide a new urban quarter for Dublin City in accordance with the national and regional planning policy,” says the presentation.

It is in early stages, but if this process is successful it would create a strategic landbank for housing in the city for the coming decades, says Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam, who chairs the planning committee, by phone on Tuesday.

“There is potential for large-scale housing developments, as well as commercial and retail space,” he says.

The aim is to create a strategic development zone at that location and the council will hold a series of workshops with councillors, state agencies and stakeholders starting next month, says McAdam.

This proposed masterplan would tie in with the council’s plans to rezone industrial lands elsewhere in the city, he says.

Homeless Task Force

The Lord Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness has started consulting with people who are experiencing homelessness.

“Hearing their stories was powerful but heartbreaking,” says the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Green Party Councillor Hazel Chu.

The task force is made up of councillors from each political group, including independent Councillor Anthony Flynn who is CEO of Inner City Helping Homeless. As well as council officials from the housing department and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive.

The members agreed not to talk about the details of the homeless people’s stories in the media or on social media, says Chu.

So far, they have met two people who have experienced homelessness, she says. “They gave us ideas on what we should be looking at and how the system should be reformed.”

Already it seems apparent that funding for day services is a major issue, she says.

Chu wants to come up with a shortlist of improvements to homeless services that can be realistically achieved during her term, she says.

“I’d love to eradicate homelessness,” she says. But she doesn’t think that is realistic within her short term because that requires a sufficient supply of public housing to come on stream, she says.

In the meantime the council can work on improving homeless services for homeless people in the city, she says.

By December, Chu says the task force will agree on three key things that would make a difference and then present a request to the Department of Housing to fund those things, she says.

“I’m coming at this from a project management perspective,” she says.

If people are saying, for example, that they find it hard to navigate the system, you need to listen to that, says Chu. “The only way a service can improve is if you ask the user.”

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Author:

Laoise Neylon: Laoise Neylon is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at [email protected]

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