Councillors this week voted to approve the pedestrianisation of New St. Malahide.
The works will see an upgrade to footpath and street surfaces including a new landscaping scheme and improved outdoor dining area, as well as public seating.
A group of around 20 local residents and retailers attended the council meeting and expressed their oppositition to the plans.
Despite this, Councillors voted 22 in favour, nine against, and five abstentions.
Those against the plans claim the pedestrianisation has damaged businesses, has increased emissions, impacted footfall, and was done with little consultation.
Those supportive of the scheme say almost entirely the opposite explaining the scheme has made the area a destination – improving footfall and business in the area, reducing emissions and improving air quality. Council officials say the scheme has seen the highest level of public consultation throughout the project.
Cllr Ian Carey said:
“Having listened to the case for the pedestrianisation and the arguments from those against the scheme, I was happy to support it.
“So many of the points being made around the impact on business don’t stack up for me. There are hundreds of parking spots within a few hundred meters of New Street and any time I have been down there it has been busy with people.
“The arguments around emissions being displaced ignore a lot of the evidence which shows that over time pedestrianisations reduce emissions and improve air quality as they promote behaviour change. They encourage people to get out of their cars.
“It’s important to remember that before Grafton St was pedestrianised the greatest opposition to the plans came from the traders on the street, who feared for their businesses. In the end they were the ones who benefitted the most.
“There is so much evidence to show that pedestrianisations work for communities and businesses. They create safe attractive places for people to stay, they increase the footfall and benefit businesses, they reduce car dependency, lower emissions and improve air quality.
“I was sad to see so many Swords Councillors oppose and abstain from this decision. We need to look at our own town. Swords could benefit greatly from pedestrianising Main St. I believe Swords could do with developing a really attractive hub for hospitality on Main St to balance out the Pavillions.
“Main St is one of the most cluttered and hazardous places you could try and negotiate as a pedestrian. It has been neglected for far too long and we need to replace what we have with something really special to make the town an attractive place to spend time for locals and visitors alike.
“I personally do not wantSwords to fall behind other areas because we were not brave enough to make the right call. I hope when the funding for Sustainable Swords comes through we can work together to make this happen.”