CORK City Council plans to fully pedestrianise three city streets as part of a programme of measures to be undertaken as businesses in the city begin to re-open in the weeks and months ahead.
Last night city councillors were presented with a discussion paper on the city’s COVID-19 “Recovery Pathway”.
The paper sets out some of the temporary changes which may be needed to the layout of the city's streets “in order to maintain adequate separation space for public health social distancing requirements” as this happens.
Amongst the key changes included in the proposals are the planned enhanced temporary pedestrianisation of Pembroke Street, Paul Street and Tuckey Street.
This could happen in the next five or six weeks.
There are also plans to pedestrianise the Marina for a period of three months, with work beginning on this later this week.
The reinstatement of the pedestrianisation of Oliver Plunkett Street is also proposed.
The changes would mean that ten car spaces for people with a disability would need to be relocated.
The reassignment of road space is also being considered in some areas with the capacity of some streets to accommodate street furniture being examined.
Councillors were understood to have been broadly supportive of what has been described as the “living document”, with the Green Party's Oliver Moran describing the paper as “a good start”.
He said there were other parts of the city where more could potentially be done including on McCurtain Street, York Street and Harley Street, as well as in suburban areas.
The possibility of putting a pop-up garden on part of Paul Street was also discussed, a proposal which Mr Moran welcomed.
“These are all temporary measures but I would hope that they are popular,” he said adding that if given a chance, “when people see the benefits” they may want to keep some of these changes.
This sentiment was echoed by Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy who said this presents "a good opportunity to consider the long-term reconfiguration of the city".
Mr McCarthy said that the council was keen to speak with traders, and said that clusters of traders from particular areas should contact the local authority to discuss plans for the city.
However the independent councillor voiced some concern that “the proposals played out in the press before detailed discussions with stakeholders" and he said that there were a lot of legal issues to consider around street furniture, and removing wheelchair spaces.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil's Seán Martin said he believes there needs to be more consultation with stakeholders on the plans and said he is particularly concerned about the removal of disability car spaces.
He said there is some time yet before many businesses would be re-opening and we have to remain cautious.
Fine Gael's Des Cahill said he believes some of the changes that will take effect are changes that people would have wanted to see for some time.