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Traffic ban helps boost Grafton St business and may be here in long term

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Evie Brown (8) and dad Justin, from Dublin, enjoy a pedestrianised Drury Street in the city

Evie Brown (8) and dad Justin, from Dublin, enjoy a pedestrianised Drury Street in the city

RollingNews.ie

Evie Brown (8) and dad Justin, from Dublin, enjoy a pedestrianised Drury Street in the city

Dublin City Council off­icials have announced they are happy with the trial pedestrianisation of the Grafton Street area and will be meeting to discuss the scheme's future.

The pedestrianisation of the south city centre area was welcomed by traders last week, as it was extended across the August bank holiday weekend.

And it seems all has gone well, as far as city officials are concerned.

A Dublin City Council spokesman said: "The relevant department has advised me that it has gone well and we will be assessing it during the week."

The area was closed to vehicles across the weekend until 11pm and now the city will have to wait and see if this plan could be extended into the future.

Feedback

The initiative had been extended, the council said, due to "extremely positive feedback" following the first weekend of the trial, which took place last weekend, and saw a number of streets pedestrianised until 7pm.

Richard Guiney, from Dublin Town, said recently: "We would like to see the trial extended to a seven-day basis to fully understand the impact for business."

The group said 2,500 business representatives in the city centre believe there are "merits in trialling and measuring the impacts of this pedestrianisation on a seven-day basis".

Boosting trade was vital from Monday to Wednesday as this is when trade is "struggling the most", the group added.

The streets were closed to traffic from 11am to 11pm across the bank holiday weekend.

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Duke Street saw plenty of footfall at the weekend

Duke Street saw plenty of footfall at the weekend

CollinsPhotoAgency

Duke Street saw plenty of footfall at the weekend

The council has closely monitored the scheme.

If it is agreed there was enough positive feedback, it could now mean the Grafton Street area is closed to traffic until 11pm for the weekends of August 8 and August 15.

The measures have been rolled out to support the economic recovery of the city by providing more space for pedestrians during weekends to encourage shopping and eating out.

However, not everyone was pleased with traffic being banned from the area.

One driver took to Twitter to complain, saying: "I'm guessing Dublin City Council haven't spoken to too many motorists in Dublin about the pedestrianisation of our city.

"Motorists are being forced off the road by ridiculous decision making.

"If the roads were left the way they were 20 years ago, there would be no congestion in the city."

But Adrian Cummins, from the Restaurants Association of Ireland, welcomed the move to close down some streets to traffic.

"Dublin City Council needs to push on with pedestrianisation of trial streets to a permanent basis," he said.

"The elephant in the room, which the Government hasn't addressed, is commercial rents.

"If businesses are down 70pc, surely landlords and especially institutional landlords can reduce rent."

Five disabled parking bays were moved to alternative locations during the times of the trials.

Transformed

Last week, Dublin City Council stated that barring traffic had led to up to a 100pc upturn for businesses.

The first of the four consecutive trial weekends had resulted in increased takings of between 40pc and 100pc, according to a survey of 292 businesses in the area.

The council reported to councillors that at the start of July, figures showed Grafton Street was only trading at 20pc of pre Covid-19 levels.

Meanwhile, north of the Liffey, on Henry Street the figure was 50pc.

The car-free trial, if made a permanent fixture, could see Dublin city centre transformed into a greener capital, say supporters of the scheme.