Council Briefs: The First Water-Bottle Refill Station, an Update on Rathmines’ Gulistan Site, and Improving Playgrounds

A Kind of Water Fountain?

Dublin City Council is planning to put in a water-bottle refill station, the first in the city, on Clarendon Row in January, said Marie Gavin, a senior executive engineer, at the December meeting of councillors for the South East Area.

It’s one of a bunch of changes planned for the street, which is in the Grafton Street area. Others include putting back in a DublinBikes station, wider footpaths, bike parking, and a new pedestrian crossing.

Gavin said works are due to start on 10 January and take five months.

The scheme got planning permission in 2017 as part of the Grafton Street Public Realm project – a 2014 plan to make the area less traffic-focused – and was supposed to be done at the same time as works on nearby Chatham Street, said Gavin.

Clarendon Row. Screenshot from Dublin City Council meeting.

Chatham Street was finished in July 2020. But “we’re actually only in the position to go to site with this now”, said Gavin.

At the moment, Clarendon Row is too vehicle-focused, with narrow footpaths, no greenery and poor lighting, she said. “It’s very unattractive. The surface condition’s very poor.”

But it’s an important linking road, she says. “So we feel it’s a very important location that we needed to improve.”

There are no plans to pedestrianise the street full-time, said Gavin, as businesses have to get deliveries.

The street is pedestrianised from 11am after the delivery window, said Gavin.

“We are looking at possibly, just a different delivery regime for the Grafton Street area anyway, like in the long term there is a plan to look at deliveries, so it would be part of that whole scheme,” she said.

“These works are long overdue,” said Mannix Fynn, an independent councillor, at the meeting. “We’ve had a lot of development on that particular street.”

Council Plans for Rathmines Land

People and local groups made 47 submissions to the public consultation that ran in September and October, seeking feedback on a draft masterplan for a council site behind the Swan Shopping Centre in Rathmines.

The current draft masterplan for the 2.8 acre plot, which is known as the Gulistan depot site, lays out a primary care centre, two housing developments, some community space and a public plaza.

Issues raised by submitters to the consultation included concerns around how the area could accommodate traffic, building heights, protecting heritage, and what kinds of housing would be built.

At the South East Area council meeting, Pat Dunne, an Independents4Change councillor, said the housing needs to be a social and affordable homes that are mixed together within developments..

“It is public land, it needs to be used for public housing, and public housing is that mix of the current social list and the new cost-rental model,” he said.

Ronan Fallon, a council official, said there are no proposals yet for what kind of tenancies there would be.

“What we’re trying to do with the masterplan is to set the context for the development of the site, so the parameters and the guiding principles,” he said.

In the chief executive’s response to the public consultation submissions, he said it will be a mix of cost-rental and age-friendly social housing.

Fallon said the council will use the responses from the consultation for its pre-planning discussions with the HSE, who will develop the primary care centre , and any approved housing body that gets involved. (Approved housing bodies are not-for-profit landlords.)

James Geoghegan, a Fine Gael councillor, said the public would be concerned about increases in traffic and early reports on traffic should be given to councillors. (Traffic concerns featured prominently in public consultation.)

Said Geoghegan: “What is the current assessment of traffic going down that road? How will the bus gates in Rathmines Road impact the traffic coming along those roads? What’s the likely, I suppose, increased traffic flow?”

Fallon said vehicle access to the site would be through Gulistan Terrace. “On reflection, that shouldn’t be traffic ingress because of the location of it and the tightness of the laneways there.”

According to the council report, an amended masterplan, including the consultation recommendations, will be presented to the area committee, and used to inform any proposed redevelopment of the Gulistan site.

Improving Play at Belgrave Park

The playground in Belgrave Park, in Rathmines, will get inclusive play equipment next year, said a report from council managers to councillors at the December meeting of the South East Area Committee.

Work is due to happen from mid-March to mid-May, it says.

It’s part of wider plans for improving playgrounds which should see ten playgrounds spread across the city get upgrades, the council’s play strategy says, costing €80,000 each on average.

The plan is to add ten bits of equipment to the Belgrave Park playground, the recent report says.

That includes a wheelchair carousel that kids with and without wheelchairs can ride on, a zip wire, and an explorer ship to climb on and slide down.

The plan also includes adding two new swings: a standing pendulum swing, and a swing with a “you and me” seat for two people facing one other. And a communication board, with pictures of useful images, to help children with difficulties communicating.

Debbie Reynolds, the councils’ play development officer, said she wants to visit local schools over the coming weeks to discuss the proposal with students.

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