I have made my submission to the public consultation on the Phoenix Park Visitor Experience Strategic Review. In it, I have raised my concerns that the Office of Public Works (OPW) risk the ‘over-development’ of the Park if all elements of the Strategic Review are implemented.
The central purpose of the Phoenix Park is to act as a natural leisure space for the people of Dublin. I have no problem with the OPW seeking to enhance its attractiveness to tourists, but this must not be done at the expense of the existing environmental and leisure benefits that the Park confers. It is vital that the Strategic Review does not lead to over-development within the Park.
As an example, I am concerned about the extent to which the Review places a significant emphasis on increased car-parking, with executive summary even going as far as suggest “car parking companies take note”. Surely, providing high quality public transport is a far preferable approach. The suggestion that large car parks are a key part of the Park’s future runs counter to the understanding that we need to take measures to reduce car dependence to reduce carbon emissions and to free up our city.
The size of the Phoenix Park means is acts as a ‘green lung’ for Dublin City. If offers a large, tranquil and comparatively unpolluted place where people can walk, exercise or participate in sports. In an urban landscape like Dublin, it provides a key environmental space, both for humans and wildlife. It is essential that, in considering any changes within the Park, this central role the Park already plays is kept to the fore. There isn’t enough in the Strategic Review on this element of the Park’s current role. This concerns me, and I think the OPW need to change the Review to reflect this.
My colleague, Cllr. Neasa Hourigan, has also been working on this and has been advocating that we should be seeking to ‘re-wild’ the Phoenix Park and actually increase the level of biodiversity within it.