Opinion: One Year On From New Parking System – Is Carrigaline Better For It?
Updated: Aug 13
Writes Ciaran Dineen
At the end of July last year, Cork County Council and local Councillors in the Carrigaline Local Electoral Area (LEA) launched a new parking regime as part of the ‘Project ACT’ initiative. One year on from its implementation can we consider the system a success and what has it done for parking in the centre of Carrigaline?
Project ACT was a programme launched by the Council in response to the impact of Covid-19 on town centres across the county of Cork. Their aim was to make town centres more vibrant and accessible, promoting local businesses and advocating for increased community engagement, following some of the challenges presented by Covid-19.
As well as waiving fees for outdoor dining licences, which has proved to be extremely beneficial for the likes of Bean and Leaf and Carpe Diem, Project ACT was also responsible for the procurement of the fantastic parklet in the Owenabue Car Park, and welcomed the suggestion by Carrigaline Community Association Chair, Michael Wall, for the instalment of a ‘bandstand’ into the community park, which is being put together as we speak.
There was a real appetite from the Council to improve the flow of movement in Carrigaline and reduce the amount of long-term parking in the area, particularly along Main Street. Several issues with parking had existed in the town over many years, and while some still exist today, the implementation of the informal system has proven to be beneficial for local businesses and shoppers, with a higher turnover rate of spaces in the village centre.
In its official launch, a strategy was set out encouraging 1 hour limit parking along Main Street Carrigaline, from the Garda Station up and around to the Co-Op Superstores. Medium-term parking was set aside in the front part of the Owenabue Carpark, for stays of 1-2 hours, with longer stay parking permitted in the back half of the carpark and the newly acquisitioned overflow area beside the entrance to Church Road.
Over the period of the last 12 months, there has been good public buy-in for the new system, and there have been notable occasions where parking on Main Street has been more fluid, particularly on the south side of the Bridge.
Locals have been encouraged to park outside of the core area and there has been an increase in the amount of people parking away from Main Street, before making the very short, two-minute walk to the village. The presence of a warden at certain times to enforce parking regulations has also been a benefit. While the officer did not have the ability to hand fines out for those not abiding by the parking system, they could issue fines for illegal parking.
The loss of a small amount of car spaces has not been felt and in fact, what has replaced them have proven to be much more of a community asset. Such was the positive impact of the parklet that there were calls for it to be extended in size by Cllr Liam O’Connor, which saw a further handful of spaces reclaimed for the public good.
The question now is, what’s next? While the Carrigaline TPREP plan has now been passed by local councillors following the monthly meeting of the Municipal District in July, the vision set out in the strategy won’t come into effect until the Western Relief Road nears its completion. In the meantime, Cllr Seámus McGrath has called for a more formal procedure to be implemented for the parking regime, brought through by the implementation of by-laws for the town.
If by-laws were introduced, it would mean that more scrutiny would be placed on the length of stay, with a warden able to hand out tickets to those staying longer in their zone than they should. However, Cllr McGrath has stressed that this would not result in paid parking.
His request was made several months back, but little has been achieved since. Nevertheless the topic still remains on the agenda, with public representatives keen to see advancements in the near future.
It could be the case that for financial reasons, some form of paid parking may need to be introduced in order to cover the expense of the warden, but many large towns in Ireland, such as Tralee, have shown that paid parking need not be expensive, with parts of their main town charging 60c an hour.
Overall, the parking system did more than improve the turnover of car parking in Carrigaline, it was a proposal different to that of the status quo, breaking a glass ceiling showing that it is possible to promote change.
The response to Carrigaline TPREP has shown that local citizens are more willing to promote space for pedestrians and people than cars and steps towards reducing the amount of vehicles on our streets is now a widely supported concept. One thing is for sure, a return to the old normal is a thing of the past.