Council Unveils Plans for Housing and Park on Bridgefoot Street

Residents and local councillors seem happy with proposals unveiled recently for what will be built on two patches of vacant land on Bridgefoot Street in Dublin 8.

For years, residents had been pushing for a park there, but council officials had been eyeing up the site for housing.

Now it looks as if there might be both.

What’s in the Designs?

At the moment, the designs show a playground, community gardens, and some all-weather pitches on the larger, eastern vacant site.

The existing handball alley would be retained, and the community gardens would be moved from their current spot and get a new building to store tools and equipment.

Image courtesy of Dublin City Council

On a smaller site, to the west, council officials hope to build 58 new social-housing units in a five-storey complex that would match the area’s existing building heights.

Last Wednesday, local councillors on the South Central Area Committee unanimously decided to send these plans out for public consultation.

Anthony Flynn, the executive manager of the council’s housing department, agreed with councillors when he said such a proposal was “long overdue”.

People Before Profit Councillor Tina MacVeigh said there’s broad public support for the proposals. “They are a great example of what can happen when you have good engagement with the community,” she said.

Some in the area have a more cautious welcome though.

“We are happy enough. As long as 50 percent of the social housing units go to local people and we have got the full-sized park,” said Tony O’Rourke, chairperson of the Bridgefoot Park Committee.

“Although we are not happy to be losing any green space,” he says – a nod towards the site that will be used for social housing.

Image courtesy of Dublin City Council

The Campaign

Residents of Bridgefoot Street have been calling for a park to be built on the site since 2003, when the old Bridgefoot Street flats, built in the 1960s, were demolished.

In 2008, plans to build around 200 apartments and a community centre there, through a public-private partnership, collapsed following the economic crash.

Then, there was backlash from residents last summer after progress on a hoped-for park stalled, and there was talk of plans for some kind of emergency accommodation on the site.

MacVeigh says that the “determined concerted effort” of residents has paid off.

There has been a campaign for about two and a half years, she said, with weekly meetings among residents.

There are still signs up along the fence by the site, with information about how residents can get involved in the campaign, and arguments for why the need for a park in the area is so great.

O’Rourke says they fought hard to secure the park. “This is the most densely populated area in the state,” he said.

MacVeigh says the local residents have their own architects, so they will be able to contribute to the plans through the public consultation.

On Monday, Jim O’Shea was walking out of the flats where he lives, which face the site where the park is to be.

He wasn’t involved in the campaign, but seemed delighted a park is planned for the area. “It’s great for the kids, isn’t it? And it’ll be lovely to look out and see a bit a green,” he says.

New Homes

Local residents and councillors had, in the past, raised concerns about plans to increase the number of social housing units in the area.

There’s already a high proportion of social housing there, and a lack of green space.

However, according to O’Rourke, residents are willing to accept the extra social housing as long as locals get some benefit from it.

According to the plans, the park will be on the main site, surrounded by Bonham Street, Island Street and Bridgefoot Street.

The 58 homes – 13 one-bedroom, 30 two-bedroom and 15 three-bedroom apartments – will be built on another smaller site, across the road at Bonham Street, where there is already some student housing.

Sinn Féin Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh said she’d been told that local residents would get preference for some of the units. There’s a need for three-bedroom homes in the area, she said.

A Step

The plans includes space for two all-weather pitches, which could be used for different sports, from soccer to basketball. They’re smaller than recommended five-aside pitches, though.

O’Rourke says it’s good that they’ll have a games area, but repeated his call for there to be full-sized pitches for kids to play in the Liberties, to keep them out of trouble.

“In the area we live in, there are no decent sports facilities,” says O’Rourke. “There is some seven-a-side pitches, but they are in a bad state of repair.”

For O’Rourke, the park is a small step in the right direction, but it’s not the end game.

“To us this park is just the start,” he says. “The question is how do you lower your social problems? You do that by providing amenities.”

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Author:

Laoise Neylon: Laoise Neylon is a freelance journalist. You can reach her at laoiseneylon@gmail.com.

Reader responses

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colm ryder
at 22 February 2017 at 12:39

A good step forward….and now hopefully the resalisation of the Park will be fast tracked!

North but South
at 23 February 2017 at 17:01

Mostly good news; I’m delighted something is finally happening with this piece of vacant land. However the building component of the plan should increase the height of the buildings by one or two stories and fit in another 15-20 units.

And it shouldn’t just be reserved for locals on the social housing waiting list: public housing in general should be opened up to a far greater number of people of a higher ranges of incomes.

James
at 24 February 2017 at 15:59

@ North but South – I don’t agree about opening up public housing to people with higher incomes. There’s already a shortage of public housing in Dublin city, so why increase the numbers on the waiting list? Dublin clearly needs a new approach to affordable housing and town planning in terms of making it a living city rather than a workplace / tourist destination, but I think broadening the public housing criteria would create more problems than it would solve.

Marc Evers
at 27 February 2017 at 08:30

Good to see that activities for the young ones are added, it’s very important to keep them healthy: [https://www.theatlantic.com/healt…
Just hope this goes ahead soon.

North but south
at 7 March 2017 at 18:02

@ James – Why do you think broadening the public housing criteria would create more problems than it would solve? The way public housing is provided in Ireland at the minute causes many problems and has seen any areas descend into essentially gettos. Creating mixed income public housing, which would be a mix of demographics, would create a far more vibrant and sustainable community.

Richard Taplin
at 23 November 2017 at 17:17

Were now on our final stages of our garden..
Any one interested in getting involved can sign up here dublinmensshed@gmail.com.
We have also started a informal meet up to link in .
Followed by an hour of singing.
Weds 12-2 NCAD Thomas Street D.8 rehearsal starts @1 pm
And
Sunday 1600-1800 School Street Community Center Pimlico D.8
Rehearsal starts at 1700 .
It don’t matter if you can’t sing .
Its for the craic .
The garden is open every Sat 1400-1800
And during the week
Mon , Weds and Friday 10-12 .

Our community garden welcomes everybody to participate and engage with us .
We are registered P.P.N (public Participation Network ) so our aim is to have your voice heard and get involved in local decision making about our community .

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