A series of new parks and improved green spaces are transforming The Liberties, creating new recreational opportunities for residents, workers and visitor to the area. In 2014, Dublin City Council adopted The Liberties Greening Strategy and the Council has been progressively implementing the strategy with the development of two new parks, investment in existing green spaces and a sustained focus on improving the public realm: greening and tidying up streets and public spaces.
Among the projects happening:
Weaver Park is a new public amenity nearing completion at Cork Street. The €1m park is set to open in summer 2017 and will include a children’s play area, skateboarding features, landscaping, areas for relaxation and extensive planting. The park was developed in consultation with the local community and followed a sustained local campaign for an amenity on the prominent site. The new community park – named after the prevalent historical trade in this area of The Liberties – will complement ongoing development in Newmarket and Cork Street and is the first purpose-built park to be developed in The Liberties in over 100 years.
A new park at Bridgefoot Street is the second flagship project of The Liberties Greening Strategy. The plan is to redevelop an existing brownfield site, formerly earmarked for housing, with a new amenity. A design consultation with the local community earlier this year has produced a design that includes a performance area, a community garden and allotments, plays areas, landscaped mounds and planted areas. Dublin City Council has now initiated a planning application known as Part 8 for the park. The hope is to complete the planning process this year and to tender for the project early in 2018, with completion later in 2018.
Pimlico is one of a number of smaller green spaces around the area, that should provide a place to stop and sit, run a dog or enjoy a lunch break. The space has recently received a modest makeover, relaying the path, adding new lighting and seating, repairing the boundary plinth and replanting the lawn and the area around the memorial tree. The work also saw a number of raised planter beds added on nearby Marrowbone Lane and upgrading the street surfaces and lighting.
The small park around St Audoen’s Churches on High Street includes a number of attractive and historic features including the churches themselves and the largest remaining section of Dublin’s old city wall. Two projects are now proposed to improve what has been an ailing public space, prone to anti-social behaviour. As part of a first phase, entrances into the park, views through it and circulation and connections to the churches will all be improved to make the park more open and welcoming. Planting and landscaping will also be updated and new features added. The second element, to be subject to a planning application, proposes a new memorial children’s garden, inspired by young people who lost their lives in the events of Easter 1916. The new play area, to be located on the Cook Street level will include walkways, climbing frames, play zones and new planted areas.
The ruins of St Luke’s Church in Newmarket are currently being transformed into a contemporary office space, restoring and retaining historic fabric and breathing new life into the former church. The plan, developed on foot of a Conservation Plan for St Luke’s, includes a new public pocket park, facing into St Luke’s Avenue, as well as restoration work and public access to the former churchyard to the rear of the church. A reopened gateway will provide access to Newmarket. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
Road widening in the 1980s created a rather unappealing network of dual carriageway around The Liberties: Patrick Street, Nicholas Street and High Street seem more designed for the needs of cars than of people. Imaginative planting is now being added to the medians of these streets, to create more attractive greening links between The Liberties and the main city centre and help mitigate the effects of traffic. The first phase, focused on Nicholas Street and Patrick Street was completed in 2016. A second tranche is now planned for the median of High Street.
In addition, Dublin City Council has added over 100 tree planters and planted troughs to the main High Street to James Street route, and to street such as Francis Street and Carman’s Hall. Many of the planters incorporate seats.