Council Briefs: Tourism in Kilmainham and Inchicore, a Land Swap in the Liberties, and More

Tourism in Kilmainham and Inchicore

A new tourism plan for Kilmainham and Inchicore was presented last Wednesday at a meeting of the council’s South Central Area Committee.

Creating a historical quarter and walking route was recommended in a 2019 report commissioned by the Department of Housing.

Dublin City Council contracted a tourism consultancy firm CHL to come up with the tourism plan.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, Ali Curran, director of CHL, said the plan includes creating “an enhanced visual identity for the area” so that “it’s more clearly defined when you come into the area that you’re entering an area of significant historic interest”.

A map of a heritage trail running through the areas already exists, Curran said, but there aren’t physical signposts leading visitors along the route, and the map doesn’t include all the landmarks the areas offer.

“While it’s an open secret amongst people who are familiar with the area, it’s not necessarily an obvious thing to anybody who would be visiting it,” she said.

So, CHL created a map, including buildings like the art deco Inchicore Library, the columned chapel of the Goldenbridge Cemetery, and the Inchicore Railway Works building.

And historic street furniture like the green post boxes, shamrock-decorated lamp posts, and an old water pump that could be made more “overt” to passers-by, Curran said.

Painting artistic motifs, lettering names on buildings, and holding exhibitions in different places, would also increase the connection to history in the area, she said.

For example, the Inchicore Library could become like Epic the Irish Immigration Museum as “while modest in scale, it is perfect for a social history kind of experience”, she said.

A figure-eight-shaped route would link the landmarks, she said, with the Chapelizod bypass at the “nipped in waist of the eight, and then the two loops that go around the two villages, which are full of these wonderful experiences”,

Curran said Heuston Station would be linked in, and the green spaces in the area added in too.

They held consultations with locals to help write the plan. The next step is to get funding from the council and other bodies to make it all happen.

Tina MacVeigh, a People Before Profit councillor, said that locals should be invited to become tour guides and researchers, and the community should be held “at the centre of the circle”.

A Land Swap in the Liberties

At Wednesday’s meeting, councillors in the South Central Area also voted to back a proposal to swap a rectangle of land next to the former steelworks site near Basin View in Liberties, with a neighbouring landowner in exchange for four apartments.

The proposal still has to be voted on by the full council to be finalised.

In December 2020, Cherry Core Ltd and Jasmine Perfection Ltd applied for planning permission to build 189 rental apartments on the former steelworks site between 32A and 35 James Street, and on a narrow council-owned site off Basin View.

Rectangle of land that the council proposes to swap for homes. Image from Dublin City Council report.

Councillors had to decide whether to swap the site for to-be-built homes, or push for the council to build there itself.

The land, without planning permission, would be worth €380,000, said a report to councillors. The four homes it wants to swap the land for – two one-beds of 45sqm, and two two-beds of 71sqm – are together worth €1.5 million, it says.

Doing that swap would mean that the council could achieve a higher “site value”, meaning it would get more for the land, and have four new social homes, says the report, “at no cost to the exchequer”.

The site will be developed more quickly, it says. “And without the constraints of having to construct a linear development along the entire length of the back wall of the neighbouring residents.”

Bruce Phillips, the South Central Area manager, said the site is narrow at 12 metres wide, and surrounded by homes. Which “would make development quite difficult in terms of achieving adequate privacy levels”, he said.

When the council’s City Architects division looked at the site from their desktops, they decided they could fit between five and seven apartments on it, said another council report. But no legal or site-condition investigations were made, it says.

Michelle Robinson, the council’s housing executive manager, concluded that building its own development on the site would not be a good use of council resources, because they’re focused on bigger sites.

Sophie Nicoullaud, an independent councillor, said at the meeting that she is worried the developer would make changes to the application following the sale.

“I don’t have much trust in private developers. And we had examples of that,” she said. “Why can’t we keep it for green space in this really urban area?”

Phillips, the council area manager, said there is no potential for the site to be green space “because of its backland nature, it’s rear houses. It’s very slender and thin and is likely to lead to all types of management and maintenance issues in the future.”

“We always are looking for more open space but this site is not suitable in any way for open space,” he said.

Helen McNamara, a senior executive housing officer, said the land title isn’t handed over to the developer until they’ve built the four apartments.

Independent Councillor Vincent Jackson said the space is in poor condition. “I’d say even the adjoining residents who live along there would be happy to do some development on this.”

The Long Wait for Bridgefoot Street Park

People have been asking when Bridgefoot Street Park will be opening, said Michael Pidgeon, a Green Party councillor, at the South Central Area committee meeting.

“People understand delays,” said Pidgeon. “No one’s angry. But I think is there any reason we can give people as to why it’s been delayed opening another month or two?”

The Parks Department had planned to open the park this month, said Bruce Phillips, the South Central Area manager, but there have been delays.

Bridgefoot Street has been waiting for the park for a long time, with some campaigning for over a decade. Plans were voted through council in 2017. Construction has been ongoing for the last couple of years.

“There are problems with contractors, in terms of staff and getting supplies to carry out works and the contractor,” said Phillips.

“The contractor that’s on site at the moment has needed materials that is not possible to source,” he said. “As soon as the contractor gets these materials the park will be completed and opened.”

There’s no firm opening date yet, he said. “But I think we are at this stage looking at early January.”

In the meantime, the median in Bridgefoot Street will be turned into a planted area like the median on James Street, said Phillips at the meeting.

That will give the Bridgefoot Street area a much-needed uplift, said Phillips. “I think we can all agree that it’s been somewhat kind of a neglected area for many years, but that has now changed.”

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