Words: Ellen Kenny
South William Street pedestrians, one. Grafton Car Park, zero.
Dublin City Council have agreed to the full pedestrianisation of South William Street. It is the second street in Dublin to be pedestrianised in recent months.
The Council pedestrianised Capel Street in May 2022, making it the longest traffic-free street in Dublin.
The Council have also announced plans to make College Green and Dame Street traffic-free on August 7. In December 2021, the Council announced plans to start the process of pedestrianising College Green by 2024.
The Council previously pedestrianised South William Street in 2021 to accommodate outdoor dining during pandemic restrictions.
Trials in 2020 showed overwhelming public support for the street’s pedestrianisation. However, the owners of the Grafton Car Park, previously the Brown Thomas Car Park, opposed the move.
The Council asked the owners to reverse their entry and exit arrangements to make the street an entry point to the car park with exit from Clarendon Street. The owners refused, citing lowered business caused by car park congestion. As a result, only the small area between the car park exit and Exchequer Street, a 30 metre stretch, was pedestrianised.
However, the Council have decided to move forward with the full pedestrianisaiton of the street regardless. Green Party councillor Claire Byrne said the Council “cannot be beholden to one retail unit in the city and their car park”.
According to a 2020 survey, two thirds of businesses in the area want to pedestrianise South William Street. 17 per cent of the 20 per cent of people who drive to the city to shop said they would stop visiting Dublin if the city pedestrianised their car park of choice. However, within that 17 per cent, the majority are those least likely to visit the city anyway.
The pedestrianisation is part of the Council’s Development Plan 2022-2028.
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