New job hopes dashed

By Andrew Donovan

A renovated Iveagh Market, a new park on school street, an extended luas line and almost 800 new accommodations, including 20 for travellers; all this was promised under the largest local area plan in Dublin’s history, the 136 hectare Liberties Local Area Plan (LAP) of 2009. Three years later and under the auspices of a new project – The Dublin City Council Development Plan 2011-2017, not much has changed in The Liberties.

Evelyn Hanlon, the former project manager for the Liberties Local Area Plan sighed down the line the reason for the stall in plans,“ due to a lack of funding there are currently no public works scheduled for the Liberties area.”

Kieran Cunningham is the Senior Executive Officer of Housing and Residential Services for Dublin City City Council specialising in traveller accommodation. He engaged with the developers and told me “Our site was going to be subsumed into The Liberties project in exchange for 20 residents spread out over the whole liberties area. Either four houses for families of five or five houses for families of four.

“With the Liberties project now seemingly dead in the water I don’t envisage this happening now,” Kieran said.

Liberties residents, particularly artists were heavily involved in the planning process says Labour councillor John Gallagher. Yet when it became clear that the money had dried up some people were not surprised “well some of them said I told you so, its always the case, we’re promised the sun, moon and the stars but when it comes to the push we don’t get it,” John said.

The Liberties has a history of redevelopment plans and John opposed one over 40 years ago. The Coombe’s town houses had become run down and flats were to be built in their place. His committee’s objection resulted in a housing scheme for the preservation of the lovely and much admired red-brick housing seen in the Coombe today.

Not all is quiet on the Liberties front however, Guinness’s have their own plans for the area north of James Street to Victoria Quay. The storehouse is the only thing that won’t be touched but a brand new brewery is planned which will produce an intoxicating 1.2 billion pints a year. John welcomes Guinness’ plan for the area which combined with Dublin City Council – who are to renovate St. James’ Church near Stephens Lane – should bring much needed change to James Street. Also, a bus line from Lucan to College Green that was laid down in the plan is to travels through the Liberties will go ahead, and according to John, “it would mean there would be a lot of new development along the street.”
Cllr. Rebecca Moynihan, John’s colleague in the Labour party, told me that currently the LAP is only used for planning permissions thanks of the height restrictions laid down in the plan. Expressing her resignation at the state of the situation she echoes Evelyn Hanlon saying “the LAP came at a very unfortunate time for the country.”

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