MALAHIDE is set to become the first area in Fingal to see a new pedestrian zone introduced in the centre of the village which will bring an open air, European-style feel to the heart of the village.
New Street, which is home to lots of shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafés and bars, is set to be transformed into a pedestrian-friendly area during the 10-week pilot initiative.
Walk Bike Fingal is an initiative being rolled out across the county and which seeks to encourage and facilitate social distancing for citizens going about their daily business.
The contractor has been appointed and work will commence on Monday and will allow retailers, café and restaurant owners expand their business onto the street, giving a European-style feel on the street.
Additional parking is being provided at the nearby Bridgefield Car Park at the entrance to Malahide Demesne. Free parking will now be available at this location for a two-hour period. The Council has also installed a number of Age Friendly parking spots in the town centre.
During the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a significant drop in traffic, combined with a resurgence in walking and cycling across Fingal, and this new area will allow pedestrians move safely and freely while going about their day-to-day business.
Fingal County Council has met with stakeholders in the village and the plan has been backed by Malahide Chamber of Commerce, Malahide Community Forum and Malahide Tidy Towns.
Councillors on the Howth-Malahide Area Committee also approved the pilot initiative following a briefing from Council officials.
Next week, Fingal County Council will launch its Street Furniture Initiative 2020 to facilitate the temporary placement of chairs and tables on footpaths to allow for outdoor dining. From Thursday (June 18) applications and details can be made at https://www.fingal.ie/council/service/street-furniture-licence
The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr. Eoghan O’Brien said: “I am looking forward to the implementation of this scheme that will transform many of our streets across Fingal. The scheme is to ensure that people can adhere to social distancing guidelines while going about their lives in as safest a way possible. As a community in Malahide and Fingal we are going to have to change the way we do things in our towns and villages to adhere to social distancing so as to ensure that COVID remains suppressed and people can go about their lives safely.”
Malahide Chamber of Commerce president Derek Fowler said: “The pedestrianisation of New Street will ensure it becomes a destination point for residents and visitors to Malahide, and is anticipated that it will, as a result, bring business to the street and the area in general. The pedestrianisation allows for socially distanced queuing outside shops and business premises while at the same time providing a space for retailers to conduct their business in a safer environment out in the public space by permitting trading/facilities on the street and to accommodate queuing outside of retail premises, while pedestrians pass comfortably.’
Malahide Community Forum chairperson Gerry Duggan said: “We believe this will be of significant benefit to both customers and shop owners and will further help to prevent further spread of the Coronavirus within our community. This pilot, coupled with the development of the Village Green, is a real opportunity to provide public space to retailers, residents and visitors alike and this we hope will lead to people spending more time and indeed more money in Malahide, which is good for business, good for jobs and good for the citizens of Fingal. It is however essential that appropriate measures are put in place to ensure smooth vehicular access to Malahide Marina and residences.”
Malahide Tidy Towns Chairperson Pat McNamara said: “We are very happy to see this scheme coming to Malahide which will allow pedestrians to shop and browse freely on New Street once more. I think that this project will breathe new life back into the heart of the village encouraging people to move with ease without fear of contamination or traffic. With the large influx of traffic into Malahide in recent years, it has lost its village atmosphere and has become more of a thoroughfare, this project will bring life back to the centre and ensure that Malahide retains its village atmosphere and not just an access area to other towns in the vicinity.”
AnnMarie Farrelly, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, said: “As part of our measures to tackle the Covid-19 health emergency, Walk Bike Fingal is a new initiative to support people and businesses to try to go back to living their lives as safely as possible. These temporary changes to the public realm will create better outdoor space for the enjoyment of citizens and will also assist some of our local business to re-open in a safe way.”
David Storey, Director of Operations in Fingal County Council, said: “The temporary repurposing of New Street Malahide alongside other Fingal paths, roads and public realm spaces is to help all of our residents to get out for exercise and time outside and to support some of our local businesses to reopen while being able to respect the 2m social distancing requirements. Covid-19 has changed many things in our lives recently and we need to adapt the facilities and infrastructure we have to help our residents.”