Thanks for that Stephen. Glad to see improvement works to the public domain is one of the core objectives of implementing the ACA at this point - the paving has deteriorated hugely in recent years (I'll get some pics). It's hardly surprising given the footfall of 15,000-20,000 people per hour during peak hours, nearly every day for the past 18 years.
Cobblelock surfaces, being made up of small pieces, gradually lose their tightness and fall apart under such pressure. Similarly there must be hundreds of broken white paving tiles lining the street at this stage. The City Council are gradually losing the battle in keeping up the maintenance of what is simply a disintegrating surface - there's constantly road works on the street solving only the worst problems, while the others wait their turn, deteriorating themselves.
A few extracts from the ACA introduction:
Grafton Street is one of Dublin’s best known destinations, celebrated in song, verse, film and literature with a long and rich history dating back to the early 17th century. The unique form of the street combined with the architectural quality of many of its buildings creates a distinctive physical character, which enhances the commercial and social functions of the street.
Despite its strong physical character and economic performance, a number of recent trends is detracting from its attractiveness and threatening the long term viability of the street. These trends relate largely to the increasing imbalance in the mix of uses in the street, the deteriorating quality in the design of shopfronts and the public domain, including the condition of street paving and street furniture. As part of an initiative to address these issues Dublin City Council is proposing to designate the street as an Architectural Conservation Area. The character of Grafton Street is not rooted in any one dimension but is multi-faceted with economic, physical and social aspects, all of which contribute in part to its unique quality. It is this unique character that Dublin City council wishes to protect and enhance.
Notably it says:
It is an objective to carry out a co-ordinated street improvement scheme for Grafton Street that will upgrade the existing paving and street furniture. Paving work will be to a high design standard and of high quality paving materials and complementary in slab size, colour and texture with the architectural character of the street. As yet there is no time scale proposed for this work.
As part of the proposed street improvement scheme it is proposed to create a new public space at the top of Grafton St at its junction with St Stephens Green and to provide for a special treatment of the space at the junction with Nassau St/Suffolk St.
The latter in particular is good news - Lower Grafton Street is a complete shambles, so much so that most people don't even know it is a street al all, let alone Grafton Street. It has no coherence whatsoever, packed to the rafters with urban clutter, bus stops, buses and more buses, bus queues, parking bays, bicycle parking, vans constantly unloading, shocking paving, motorway street lighting, wholly inadequate space for pedestrians etc etc etc. Bit like Nassau Street so
Whatever public scheme is devised for Grafton Street proper must be pulled out into Lower Grafton St to spacially link the two areas. The character of the scheme also ought to be similar to that we currently have – a warm distinctive paving, kept simple without acres of granite cobble being plonked down every few metres to denote every nodal point, entrance and crossing on the street, and with traditionally-influenced street furnishings. Indeed I’d even suggest retaining the current lampposts but updating them with more contemporary heads. It’d be terrible to see the pleasant welcoming character of the street (even if only created 20 years ago) replaced with a cold and sterile Barcelona treatment. Certainly update it – just keep that warmth.
Indeed looking back, it was a major undertaking in 1988 or so to pave that entire street – a massive project by any standards, especially in a city that had never done anything like this before, and with such tight resources. Does anyone know if the granite used in the paving is Irish? It’s lovely and coarse-grained, and also warmer than the Chinese and Portuguese stuff we’re getting today. Perhaps the last use of Irish granite in the paving of the capital?