Streets will close to traf­fic in bid to boost city foot­fall

The Irish Times - - Home News - MARK HIL­LIARD

Sev­eral streets on Dublin city cen­tre’s south side are to be closed to week­end traf­fic in an ex­per­i­ment to see if eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity can be re­vi­talised after dev­as­ta­tion wrought by coro­n­avirus.

The tar­geted area around Grafton Street will in­clude parts of South Anne Street, Duke Street, South Wil­liam Street, Drury Street and Dame Court. The trial will shut off traf­fic be­tween 11am and 7pm for four week­ends from July 25th on a trial ba­sis.

Dublin City Coun­cil, which pub­lished de­tails of the plan on Thurs­day night, said the step was de­signed to pro­vide space for safe move­ment of peo­ple and to help busi­nesses.

“To sup­port the eco­nomic re­cov­ery of the city it is pro­posed to pro­vide more space for pedes­tri­ans dur­ing the week­end to en­cour­age peo­ple to re­turn to shop and en­joy the city cen­tre,” it said of the move which is part of a broader strat­egy.

Seat­ing

“Pedes­trian num­bers through­out the city have fallen dra­mat­i­cally since early March. And al­though num­bers have in­creased slightly in the last num­ber of weeks, foot­fall is still well be­low av­er­age.”

Fig­ures pro­vided by the au­thor­ity show that al­though foot­fall on Henry Street, a pop­u­lar shop­ping area on the north side, had re­turned to about half of its pre-coro­n­avirus level, the Grafton Street area was at 20 per cent of pre­vi­ous ac­tiv­ity.

Busi­nesses can ap­ply to put ad­di­tional tem­po­rary seat­ing out­side.

Pub­lic trans­port and taxi ranks will op­er­ate as nor­mal and load­ing will be fa­cil­i­tated un­til 11am. On-street park­ing will be sus­pended in much of the af­fected area al­though pub­lic car parks will re­main ac­ces­si­ble.

The news prompted a wide­spread pos­i­tive re­ac­tion on so­cial me­dia. On Twit­ter, cof­fee shop owner Karl Purdy said a full week would have been prefer­able but ac­knowl­edged the “fast-track­ing” of the plan.

Anti-so­cial be­hav­iour

How­ever, not all lo­cal re­ac­tion has been pos­i­tive. “It’s a very, very dif­fi­cult area in terms of anti-so­cial be­hav­iour and large gath­er­ings of peo­ple,” said Cllr Man­nix Flynn.

“Look at the board­walk [on the river Lif­fey] which was a dis­as­ter and Tem­ple Bar Square which was a dis­as­ter and Smith­field which was a dis­as­ter. These need to be brought in line and man­aged be­fore we even con­tem­plate do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar.”

Jean Mar­tin De­niau, who owns an an­tiques shop in the Pow­er­scourt Town­house Cen­tre, said he was wor­ried that any dis­in­cen­tive for peo­ple to drive would af­fect his more ma­ture client base.

“I don’t feel I have been con­sulted at all,” he said. “If it goes ahead I think most peo­ple would be to­tally taken by sur­prise; they have no idea this is com­ing.”

A coun­cil spokesman said any busi­nesses with con­cerns could con­tact them by email.

“We have had nu­mer­ous re­quests from busi­nesses in the area and from busi­ness groups to un­der­take this trial,” he said. “It is a re­sponse to the cir­cum­stances which busi­nesses now find them­selves in due to Covid.”

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