Work set to begin on plaza with trees, benches and bicycle stands

Supplied by Olivia Kelly

Development of pedestrian zone beside Ha’penny Bridge to take up to two years

NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY

Now that sounds like peanuts when you compare it to the money awarded for a new town centre in Dumbarton under Boris Johnston’s “levelling up” measures

The work in Dublin is expected to begin on January 23rd and is due to be completed by the end of next year. Pedestrian access will be maintained during this time.

Liffey Street Lower is currently open to southbound traffic from Abbey Street to the quays. The creation of the plaza will mean traffic on Abbey Street, including cars exiting the Arnotts car park, will no longer be able to access the quays via Liffey Street Lower, but will instead have to turn right on to Strand Street and continue to Capel Street to reach the quays at Grattan Bridge.

While most of Capel Street has been made car free, the area between Strand Street and the river Liffey has been kept open to traffic to facilitate the plaza.

There’s a lot of details there, far in excess of what we have had from West Dunbartonshire Council about their plans for the Artizan Shopping Centre

The council began devising plans for a northside plaza following the refusal in 2018 by An Bord Pleanála of the College Green plaza. Unlike the College Green scheme, the council decided to progress the Liffey Street project through its own internal planning process.

The plans were presented to the council in February 2019, before going out for public consultation, and there have since been some alterations including the removal of a water feature incorporating a line of water jets or mini fountains.

Just as happened in Dumbarton with the Napier Engine.

The council determined these would be “visually incongruous” and would impede the movement of pedestrians.

There are lots of comparisons to be made between Dumbarton and Dublin which can be made there.

And the 6.5 million euro to the £20 million for Dumbarton is just one of them. It should raise a few eyebrows around here and possibly even a comment in the council chamber in Church Street.

The Liffey scheme was approved by councillors in September 2019 and construction was due to begin later that year with a completion date of mid-2020. However, work had not yet begun when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Following the introduction of pandemic-related restrictions in 2020, the council began a programme which sought to give more space to pedestrians and to facilitate outdoor dining on the city’s streets.

These schemes were largely focused on the southside of the city, on streets surrounding Grafton Street, and Liffey Street was not included in the programme.

Separately, the council has recently sought bids to redesign the College Green plaza ahead of submitting a fresh planning application to An Bord Pleanála this year.

Sounds like Dublin is going places on a tight budget in 2023.

What about Dumbarton though? I suppose we will have to wait until we are told.

The concrete monstrosity that is Dumbarton Town Centre.

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Fewer people than ever are going to church these days although statisticians will tell you that more people go to church at weekends than attend football matches.

In Dumbarton, a shortage of available clergy at St Peter’s in Bellsmyre recently led to Canon Gerry Conroy, of St Patrick’s, taking over the running of the Bellsmyre church which, like the town centre was designed by award-winning architects Gardner, Preston and Strebel.

I don’t have to tell you that neither the of these buildings has been popular with the public since the days when the last brick was laid at one and batch of concrete laid the other.

St Peter’s has always been a grim, cold looking place,  and the town centre was and still is a disaster.

But changes are taking place there at last.

The chapel house of St Peter’s in Howatshaws Road is going to be put to community use, mirroring hopefully the great work that is done at Ben View, pictured right, next door to St Patrick’s in Strathleven Place.

For the moment the house will be used for community activities and a centre where people can get a cup of tea, a blether and something to eat on two mornings a week, Tuesdays and Fridays.

Hopefully, volunteers will rally to this excellent cause, just as they have at Ben View, and we will soon have something similar happening in Bellsmyre. Good luck to everyone involved in this wothwhile venture. 

 

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