The proposals to widen Cork Street go back to 1941 and caused great damage and ‘planning blight’ to the area over the next six decades until the new widened road was finally completed in 2003. Over the years there were campaigns by locals and environmental activists at various times to stop or modify the road widening and new road construction proposals.
The street has become something of a touchstone for the neglect of the city centre that occurred in the latter decades of the 20th century, as inner city residents moved to new suburbs and the demands of traffic grew, as well as a major challenge (and opportunity) for the developing urbanism of recent years. A period of redevelopment between 2003 and 2010 produced some notable new buildings and brought new residents to the street, with large residential schemes such as Timberyard and Southgate. The street is now set about a second phase of reconstruction in tandem with a regeneration of neighbouring Newmarket.
Kieran Rose is a planner in Dublin City Council and has been integrally involved in the efforts to reconstruct Cork Street over many years. This paper – Destruction and Reconstruction of Cork Street – offers a great overview of the unfortunate decline of the street, its development, first as a traffic conduit, and latterly the focus on new development and placemaking.