The council is looking to make more space for walking and cycling, and put in benches and greenery, along the south side of the Liffey in the Docklands, according to Marie Kavanagh, the area manager for its Docklands office.
It is asking for ideas from councillors and the public on how to redesign the public space in the stretch between the Samuel Beckett Bridge and where Sir John Rogerson’s Quay meets Britain Quay, she said at a meeting of South East Area councillors on Monday.
Said Robert McLoughlin, the design team’s lead: “We’re looking then, what are the opportunities for the future?”
Improving the campshires, as the waterfront areas of the Docklands are called, is a key objective of the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock Planning Scheme, which includes a masterplan for the north and south sides of the Docklands, said Kavanagh.
The campshires are underused, says the masterplan, which was drawn up in 2014. People should be oriented towards the river and encouraged to spend leisure time there.
A public consultation running until 23 December for the scheme, which will also include flood defences, is asking people what visions they might have to improve the campshires.
“What we’re trying to do as part of this consultation is very much, get as many ideas as possible, from everybody,” said McLoughlin. “We really want to hear from everyone.”
Councillors at the meeting said they were keen on new ideas for the area, but that the council has to be cautious of including residents in plans.
So far, the public consultation, open since the beginning of November, has had 12 submissions.
More trees, places to sit and hang out, better lighting and steps down to the water could potentially work in the space, said McLoughlin.
The design team drew up a moodboard of public spaces that could inspire the designs. Cycle lanes winding under tree canopies, tile and sculpture art reflecting the Docklands’ heritage, food and drink stalls, and people lounging on benches and steps.
“Different design solutions for different places,” said McLoughlin. “We’ve got this up to give people a general idea of where we want to go with this.”
Paddy McCartan, a Fine Gael councillor, said it’s good to see ideas for the south campshires, since there have been many for North Wall. “It’s a very exciting project.”
Claire Byrne, a Green Party councillor, said she was shocked recently at the bad state of the footpaths around there. It’s good to see a new project to improve that, she says.
“I think the vision so far is really great. I love the idea of the steps down to the river, it creates really nice connectivity with our waterside,” said Byrne.
Safety should be built into the design, said Anne Feeney, a Fine Gael councillor, so there shouldn’t be too much tree canopy creating dark, secluded spaces. “You just need people to feel safe walking there day or night.”
The design should have continuity with other parts of the city, Feeney said. “But also be maybe an exemplar of what we want to do in other places, rather than a standalone project.”
Mannix Flynn, an independent councillor, said office workers don’t stay in the area outside of their working hours. “If you go down there at night time, there’s nobody down there, nobody walks down there.”
Feeney asked if there could be water activities there. Kavanagh, in response, said that the council would be starting construction early next year on a new quayside building on the opposite side of the river. The building will be operated by the council’s sports office and run new on-water activities, she said.
Seats should have arm rests to be age friendly, said Mary Freehill, a Labour councillor. “In the interests of older people, arm rests are absolutely essential.”
Kevin Donoghue, a Labour Party councillor, said other Docklands projects have missed out on telling the rich heritage and story of the Docklands.
“I think it’s an opportunity to kind of talk about the Docklands and the working class that was such a significant part of the community for ages,” he said.
The area would link up with the proposed Dodder River bridge, which is to join Grand Canal Dock with Ringsend at the end of Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, said Kavanagh.
The council will likely make a planning application for the Dodder Bridge in early 2023, said Kavanagh. “At present, it looks like the Dodder Bridge is currently ahead of our own project.”
Money for the campshires revamp is expected to come from a few different pots. The National Transport Authority would fund the rebuilding the carriageway and any segregated cycle lanes, as part of the Ringsend to City Centre Core Bus Corridor.
The Office of Public Works would also contribute funding to the project, said Kavanagh.
Daniel Céitinn, a Sinn Féin councillor, said the south campshires is an important route in and out of the city.
“I suppose how much space we have to work with will also be determined by the volume of traffic we see going down the quays here in future,” he said.
While public space should be enhanced there, he said, he wasn’t sure about calling it a premier civic space. “I’m not really sure that’s the frame of mind to be in. Obviously we should do what we can, but it is primarily for access to the city centre.”
Kavanagh said that previously completed flood-defence walls and seating would be incorporated into the project. “The high-level intention is to continue the existing flood defence, which runs up to and as far as the Samuel Beckett Bridge.”
Hearing More Voices
The council plans to lodge its Part 8 planning application – the process it uses for building projects it is doing itself – in the second quarter of 2023, said Kavanagh.
It hopes the plans could go to a full council vote at the end of next year, she said.
Although it held a public information meeting on 10 November, not a lot of people showed up, she said. “But there was some people who lived in the area who came to see the display.”
Donoghue, the Labour Party councillor, said residents in that area feel that Docklands developments often leave them behind.
“They don’t get included in that,” he said. “That’s a point that gets made quite frequently.”
Flynn, the independent councillor, said there’s a great opportunity with this project to tie the local community back into the area. But the design ideas look quite commercial, he said.
“All they’ve actually done down here is basically othered the community and decimated the communities down and around these particular areas,” he said.
“I’m disappointed that, you know, a lot of members of the community didn’t attend the consultation process, but that alone itself is deeply alarming,” he said. “We need to reconnect to our communities.”
Donoghue said that anything developed there should be inclusive and accessible to everyone. “That’s a point that has to be made clearly and throughout.”
Kavanagh said that is something she is conscious of, and the council is going out to public consultation as early as possible to get as much feedback as possible.
“To make this a project that people who live and work in the area, and indeed [the council], can be proud of,” she said.
We've been covering stories like this since 2015, addressing the important issues in Ireland's capital. The work we do isn't possible without our subscribers. We're a reader funded cooperative. We are not funded or influenced by advertising.
For as little as the price of a pint every month, you can support local journalism in your city.