Council Briefs: Making Temple Bar Square More Accessible, Traffic Calming on Belmont Avenue, and Redeveloping the Gulistan Depot

Making Sure Temple Bar Square Is For All

Dublin City Council has made some changes to its design for a new-look Temple Bar Square, after an audit around how accessible it is, councillors learnt earlier this week.

“We’re pretty happy that we’ve, you know, made the space more accessible, you know, taking the steps out, taking the curbs out, is a cornerstone of the project,” said Philip Dunne, a council engineer, at a meeting of the council’s South East Area Committee on Monday.

The updated designs show tactile paving at the square’s entrances, a tactile strip around the space, and more seating with backrests, armrests and higher seats. There’s also a pedestrian crossing at the junction of Temple Bar Street and Essex Street East.

The council commissioned a draft accessibility audit, and liaised with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland, the Irish Wheelchair Association, and a consultant architect specialising in accessibility, Dunne said.

Councillors will get to choose the species of the four trees the council plans to plant in the square, he said.

The idea of lights hanging across the square has had to be scrapped, Dunne said, as the walls wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the wires.

They’re looking instead at three tall lamps on the square, he said. “A simple kind of modern-style lighting head.”

Mannix Flynn, an independent councillor, said he would maybe like to see older, traditional lights. “It might be a nod to the heritage of our city,” he said.

Dunne said Temple Bar Square has always had a modern design. “It didn’t really exist before 1996.”

But if more councillors wanted more traditional lamps, then the design team would consider it, he said.

An unannounced artist has been chosen, although there hasn’t been final sign-off, to make a artwork for the paving around the tree in the north-east corner of the new square.

Dunne said the council hopes work will begin in September, and that the square will be open for St Patrick’s Day next year. It first has to go out to tender, likely in June, he says.

Carolyn Moore, a Green Party councillor, asked why toilets weren’t provided in the design.

Dunne said toilets were never planned. “We were conscious that this thing is so far behind schedule from where it’s supposed to be, we’ve kept the focus fairly close.”

Karl Mitchell, a council executive manager, said that the council is working on adding public toilets in other places.

Calming a Street

Dublin City Council is planning a six-month trial to calm traffic on Belmont Avenue in Donnybrook this summer, said Andrew Duff, a council engineer, at the South East Area Committee meeting on Monday.

It’s the latest in a row of similar local traffic measures around the city, like those on Pigeon House Road and Grangegorman Road Upper.

The residential road, with a primary school closeby on a side road, suffers from congestion, speeding, rat running and other dangerous driving behaviour, said Duff.

Councillors and the council had earlier whittled six options for improving the road down to two, which then went out to public consultation in autumn last year.

Respondents were to choose between a one-way system on the stretch of Belmont Avenue between Sandford Road and Belmont Gardens, with parking retained, or a cul-de-sac at the western end of Belmont Avenue.

Dermot Lacey, a Labour councillor, there had been general agreement for the one-way system option at a council meeting last week. “We couldn’t get a consensus, so we have to reach a decision.”

Claire O’Connor, a Fianna Fáil councillor, said the people on Belmont Avenue have suffered from safety issues for years. “It can’t come quick enough.”

James Geoghegan, a Fine Gael councillor, said residents of Belmont Gardens prefer the one-way option.

“This is inevitably going to disrupt the route that they’ve been taking all their lives, and we can’t just, you know, belittle that, it’s significant,” he said. “But of course, they’re balanced against the clear and self-evident safety risks.”

Hazel Chu, a Green Party councillor, said the trial should start sooner than the summer, “if we are trying to make a success out of this and actually prevent any possible injuries”.

Duff, the council engineer, said he would look into whether it can be done sooner.

Geoghegan said that the knock-on effects of this traffic-calming scheme may mean adjacent roads like Marlborough Road and Beaver Row will also need their own schemes

“But conscious that Pigeon House Road has got something, this has now got something and it’s probably appropriate that it moves to the next electoral ward for the next traffic neighbourhood plan,” he said.

The report draws on a survey of 392 people** **who use Belmont Avenue. It found that 35 percent of respondents live on Belmont Avenue, 25 percent use the street for drop-offs, and 13 percent use it as part of their commute.

Paddy McCartan, a Fine Gael councillor, said too many people are driving their kids right up to the school gate. “There should be some way of trying to discontinue [that].”

O’Connor said people are mostly driving to get around. “Which is kind of overwhelming in terms of, you know, choosing to use a car on this street rather than walking or cycling. So we’ve bigger questions to learn from this data.”

A lot of data collection and evaluation is planned for the trial, said Duff. Junction counts, cameras for a bit of it.

O’Connor thinks the data should be used for other projects around the city. “Because it is very, very valuable data that’s been gleaned here.”

Said Owen Keegan, the council’s chief executive: “I’d be very happy to review the data on the traffic management scheme and see if there’s wider application”

Unfolding Plans at the Gulistan Depot

The council has appointed Clúid Housing to deliver new housing on the council-owned Gulistan Depot site in Rathmines, said Ronan Fallon, a council official, at Monday’s South East Area Committee meeting.

Right now, the 2.8 acre plot behind the Swan Shopping Centre has a bring centre, a former council depot, and a former ESB premises.

In April last year, the council published a draft masterplan to redevelop the site. That plan includes a primary care centre run by the HSE, both social homes for senior citizens and cost-rental housing, some community space and a public plaza.

The council ran a public consultation on that plan from 20 September to 29 October 2021, and changes have been made based on that, he said.

In April of this year, Clúid – which is an approved housing body (AHB), basically a non-profit landlord – is due to submit a detailed design brief and feasibility study.

That is expected to include details on the accommodation, costs, a finance proposal, planning and construction commissioning, and a timeline for delivery, says a report to councillors.

Mary Freehill, a Labour Party councillor, proposed a motion that councillors have regular meetings with the city architects who have oversight of the development of the site.

Fallon said that the housing department has assigned a council architect to work directly in relation to the site. “Their role will be to liaise with both Clúid, the AHB, but also the local area committee and planning department, city architects department as well.”

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Claudia Dalby: Claudia Dalby is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. She's especially interested in stories about the southside, transport, and kids in the city. Get in touch at [email protected]

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