CITY Hall chamber erupted in applause tonight as Wilton residents in the public gallery celebrated victory in their fight to stop a traffic plan which would have taken large portions off some of their gardens.
Phase one of the Wilton Corridor Project was voted down by 16 votes to eight following a tense debate where Sinn Féin and the Green Party both backed the city council €4m plan.
At times during the meeting, the public gallery became restless at comments made by councillors who declared their support for the proposals.
A protest had taken place before the council meeting where several dozen residents made their feelings clear about the traffic system — which included six lanes, comprised of bus lanes, outbound and city-bound bike lanes, and single traffic lanes each way.
To accommodate the lanes, several residents would have lost portions of their gardens with one resident believed to be losing seven metres.
The Wilton Area Residents Action Group had argued that the scheme would have no beneficial impact on traffic in the area but would come at huge cost to homeowners who would be left with reduced properties.
Submissions on the plans were made by 129 different households and 216 individuals, with 547 submissions in total during a public consultation period.
Councillors raised concerns over the proximity of traffic to houses, the safety of residents backing out of their drives across bus and cycle lanes and the lack of coherent future phases of the corridor project.
Fergal Dennehy (FF) criticised the plan as not being part of an overall plan for Wilton Road and dismissed it as a “very small piece from Wilton Gardens to Dennehy’s Cross”.
“These aren’t land owners, they are homeowners. I don’t believe that the gain from works alleviates the loss of quality of life to people,” Mr Dennehy added.
Derry Canty (FG) stated: “I cannot support this because it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. We have the piece in the middle but nothing else.
“There is no overall plan. From Cork University Hospital down to Wilton Gardens, it will remain the same forever,” Mr Canty added.
Independent Paudie Dineen described the proposal to develop just one section of the road as “senseless”.
“These houses on Wilton Road are homes, they are not just gardens. It’s not fair. To develop one section is senseless”.
Mary Rose Desmond (FF) said the plan was “not transformative” for traffic in the area, while Ken O’Flynn (FF) claimed the plan would just move the traffic bottleneck further down the road.
However, Fiona Ryan (Solidarity) supported the plan and said the decision was down to a “balance of rights for people” to retain their homes and community coupled with the “environmental catastrophe”.
Oliver Moran (GP) warned that the funding for the Government project will be lost.
“If we say no to the first phase; where is the second, third and fourth phases going to come from? It’s a tough decision but we have to make decisions like this across the city,” Mr Moran added.
Local resident and councillor Henry Cremin (SF) supported the proposal and said the matter has rolled on for decades through the creation of a development “monster” in the Bishopstown area.
In response to the councillors’ comments on the project not being part of a larger overall plan, City Hall director of roads and transportation Gerry O’Beirne said the plan was justified in its own right.