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Esker Greenway Plan Rolling Update Part 3 - August 2023

Latest drawings here


See my detailed survey results here


The current ideas map:


SDCC is progressing on its plans for a "permeability scheme", or greenway along the historic old Esker between Castle Riada and Moy Glas. As the map above sent by SDCC today shows, this is likely to prove controversial during the next phase of the consultation process, because it shows some access points that residents have already indicated concerns about. SDCC's view, not mine, is that it is better to put these proposals out there and have then discussed during the more informal consultation phase before the plan is drawn up properly and publicly advertised.


My detailed survey earlier this year in Castle Riada, Moy Glas and Elmwood suggests otherwise. This survey received over 150 responses and provided a lot of detailed information about good and bad aspects of the plan. The article on the survey showing full details and all comments is in a separate web article which you can see here: https://www.paulgogarty.com/post/esker-permeability-plan-survey-results


The plan has benefits to the wider community of course, as well as neighbouring estates. However there are also many valid caveats and concerns expressed by those living closest to the scheme in terms of safety for children, the number and location of openings and the need for CCTV and proper lighting/monitoring of the area.


I passed all these results as well as comments to the team progressing the scheme in April of this year and they said at today's briefing that they found it very informative. However they said they wanted to get down to a more detailed formal discussion first before ruling anything in or out.


The latest indicative plan is below. It's a large PDF document so is worth downloading to your computer or phone before reading:

Esker Update
.pdf
Download PDF • 4.47MB

Key takeouts from the briefing, aside from every potential access point and opening being left up for discussion, included a reiteration that SDCC could provide the services for CCTV along this location, but that it would be up to An Garda Síochána to give permission to install such a service. I asked and was given a commitment that the process of seeking Garda approval be done concurrently. The Gardaí allocate resources on the basis of reported incidents so if you are concerned about proper monitoring be sure to report any activities along the Esker as they arise. This can be done by contacting the station via the webform if people don't want to phone or call down to the Garda station.


The Council also confirmed that they would not be fencing off the route, so that aside from formal access points it may still be technically possible for people involved in undesirable activities to continue doing so, especially without CCTV.


The NTA will not fund this plan without openings and despite concerns expressed about young children accessing busy roads, such access is on the cards, albeit with some measures to ensure safety and to slow down mopeds/bikes etc. There's a proposal to open up near Moy Glas Chase/Dene, which I know is not popular and there are two routes suggested initially for Moy Glas Green, another area which strongly opposes at this location. The issue for me will be whether local concerns and the common good can find a happy medium. If not I will be tabling a lot of amendments to this plan when it comes up, before finally considering what way to go on the overall scheme.


This scheme will take a while yet and detailed consultation will go into 2024, but some initial soundings will happen sooner.


What else did SDCC have to say today? Only myself and Cllr O'Bradaigh were available to attend the online briefing earlier, but every elected rep is being kept in the loop. This is what one member of the design team added afterwards:


"Good afternoon Councillors,


"Please see attached the updated slide pack from this morning’s briefing. Also attached is the first iteration of a concept design for the scheme.


"As discussed during the briefing, I am hoping to run an informal consultation on the proposal in the coming weeks in order to get input from the community on the scheme.


"The information will be up on the SDCC portal and I will put the documents in the Lucan Library and any other community venue people think would be useful. The consultation will be announced on the council’s social media and I will put up signs advertising the scheme in the local area. As part of the consultation I will also look to run some face to face meetings/briefings for residents and the wider community. I will, of course, let you know about the consultation before it opens."


Remember, Councillors will get to vote on the Part 8 process at the end, so elements can be taken out or changed if elected reps work together. But whether all elected reps will do this is up in the air at present. We will have to go through the plan process and see what the formal consultation says. Residents will need to engage proactively.


So that's all for now. I will continue to keep people posted as and when additional information arises.


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OLDER INFORMATION ON EARLIER SCHEME, PUBLISHED DECEMBER 2022 AND UPDATED IN FEBRUARY 2023



Esker Permeability Scheme gets €50k funding to move project forward


Full details of scheme in pdf document below

Esker Permeabilty Plan Scoping Presentation Document
.pdf
Download PDF • 4.17MB

Fill in Paul's pre-consultation survey here: bit.ly/eskersurvey1



This is an update of a post previously published on December 2, 2022.


With the NTA indicating a willingness to fund the project once access in and out of estates is provided, scoping has recommenced for a new cycle and walking route on the historic Esker between Moy Glas and Castle Riada estates. A total of €50,000 has been allocated to moving the scheme forward out of the Active Travel budget for 2023.


The original plan was scrapped in 2012 following an amendment by Councillors which removed access into Castle Riada Avenue, following concerns raised by residents.


These concerns about "permeability" remain with the new plan as residents of Castle Riada and some parts of Moy Glas living along the old Esker - once the main Lucan-Clondalkin road - have been plagued by intermittent anti-social behaviour and break-ins along the embankment.


Officials believe that a new well-lit and well-used active travel route along this stretch will deter such activities, while creating proper openings will enable residents to better access public transport links and local shops, schools, parks and other amenities.


So, what's not to like about a new walking and cycling route? The devil is in the detail. Widespread consultation has yet to take place and, personally speaking, a lot of the preliminary consultations carried out by SDCC tend to be all "motherhood and apple pie" and tend to underestimate specific concerns. By the time plans get to an advanced stage, it is difficult to amend the proposals put forward by management. Not all NTA plans are votable, but where Councillors do get to vote on a "Part 8" proposal, we mainly have the power to remove elements of a plan, or reject outright, but adding things in is more difficult. This is because any proposal that the Council says will cost more than €127,000 is deemed to be a "material alteration" and can be ruled out order because it requires a brand new scheme to be advertised.


So what elements are likely to prove contentious? The first, is, again, permeability. Some residents living in cul de sacs with younger children would feel that the areas immediately outside are no longer as safe. I know that several Councillors have dismissed these concerns with some going so far as to suggest that it's more about worries over house values. But it's clearly about something in situ that is being taken away and weighing up the benefits versus other downsides because, if anything, permeability would likely increase house prices, all other things being equal.


More widespread, while SDCC says new official openings into the two estates may deter antisocial behaviour and crime, some residents will disagree and argue that it might make certain things worse. It's hard to say without more information. Perhaps the area will no longer be a preferential location for public drinking but there is an alternate argument that says better access will only facilitate criminal elements in making their escape.


Some feel the key to deterring these fears lies in the second element, CCTV. The Council says it cannot put in CCTV for GDPR reasons and that CCTV would have to be driven by An Garda Síochána, who can store and monitor the data. So, while the Council says it may facilitate CCTV through the provision of ducting and connection points, the ultimate provision of CCTV is unlikely to feature in the scheme itself, although Councillors would definitely try and push this, if at all possible. But any plan without a ring-fenced guarantee on CCTV is likely to lead to reduced support from those areas most directly affected, as well as potential users from elsewhere who may feel that their safety is at risk, even in a well-lit area, especially during quieter periods after dark.


A further concern is the limited scope of the plan. Simply having a link from the Outer Ring Road to Griffeen Road is not going to encourage a huge amount of use. Without a bridge or at least a dedicated crossing to the other part of the old Clondalkin Road, at Glendale/Foxborough, you are not going to have a workable link that encourages walkers or cyclists to avoid Castle Road or Griffeen Avenue. This will be especially useful once the swimming pool/leisure centre finally opens after multiple delays. As of now, there are no proposals to go further, although it could be part of a future link later on. How much later on is the question.


So there's plenty of food for thought here. As someone from a Green background I am of course totally supportive of active travel projects and can see the many positives of this proposal. But you also have to look at the specifics of each scheme and if something doesn't look right, it needs to be changed. I did this with the village parking scheme, tabling an amendment to reinstate parking spaces beside a busy GP surgery. I tried to do this with the canal route cycle project, tabling 35 motions and getting a lot of negative feedback from some Councillors about daring to take up meeting time tabling amendments. But still got a few improvements through. And so, with this plan I will be again be guided by the overall benefits of the project, but also by the views of people living in the area, including those living closest to the scheme, who will most have to deal with the ramifications of a botched plan on a daily basis.


If people want guarantees on the nature of particular permeability openings or on CCTV I will represent those views.


Everyone's input is vital. So please, have a look at the scoping project now and make submissions when the time comes, also making sure to let all the 10 Councillors on the Lucan Palmerstown North Clondalkin Area Committee be fully aware of your views.


And, in the meantime, please complete the survey as I will pass this onto Council officials in advance of any plan being brought forward: bit.ly/eskersurvey1

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