Wicklow County Council are proposing that a new roadway and transport bridge be constructed over the Dargle River at the Harbour-end. The bridge will be part of a new roadway extending the new-ish road serving the new schools (on the high-end of the former golf course) to the railway arch beside the Harbour Bar. It has been stated that this project is part of a long-term initiative intended to accommodate future LUAS services to/from Bray. The project being proposed does not actually include using the bridge for the LUAS nor does it include linking this Dargle River location to the DART Station.
The process whereby a Council applies for planning permission to itself is generically called a “Part 8” (this being the relevant “part” of the Planning Regulations). This proposal was notified publicly via the newspaper and site notices in July last year. At that time, any member of the public could have submitted an observation on the proposal (a.k.a. “objection”) by writing or emailing the Council.
Since that time, it would appear that various members of the public and some Bray Councillors thought that, within the planning documentation (which was prepared by the engineers working on behalf of the Council), there was a lack of scrutiny of the effect that the proposed bridge would have on the environment. Of particular concern was the negative effect that could be caused to the population of Mute Swans that live in Bray. These people submitted letters to An Bord Pleanala (the Board) asking them to consider whether or not a statutory environmental assessment should be carried out. Had the Board said “yes”, the planning application would have been examined and decided by them. In the last few weeks, the Board replied “no”, which means that the 32 Councillors of Wicklow will now decide whether or not to approve the construction of this bridge in Bray.
Some of the citizens (including some Councillors) who were initially concerned about the shortcomings of this bridge proposal are once again preparing to act.
As a reminder of the proposal, the drawings and reports can be viewed on this web-link https://www.wicklow.ie/Living/Services/Roads-Transport/Roads-Infrastructural-Projects/Part-8/PRR-21-869-Part-VIII-Bray-Sustainable-Transport-Bridge
The 10 storey bridge is proposed to look like this:
It will be located immediately beside the current railway bridge.
In short, the purpose of the new roadway and bridge will be to transport buses, taxis, cyclists and humans across the Dargle River at this location. There is also a plan that the proposal will carry the LUAS extension when or if it eventually comes to Bray. The proposal documentation states that carrying the LUAS trams or extending the new roadway or tramline to the DART Station is not part of the project or the planning application.
The concerns (in brief) of the people actively against the proposed bridge and the respective interest groups are:
- Seapoint Court Estate Group: The road at the end of the proposed bridge on the South side will terminate at the entrance to the Seapoint Court housing estate, immediately beside the railway arch, which is, in turn, immediately beside the Harbour Bar pub. The engineers Safety Audit of the design raises concerns about safety at this location. Buses will be expected to take a sharp turn at this location onto/from Seapoint Road. Severe traffic congestion already occurs at this junction at Bank Holiday weekends or any given weekend in the Summer as a result of the popularity of Bray as a day-trip destination.
- The Swan Group: The suspension wire design is likely to give rise to swan deaths, as has been experienced at the Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin City. Swans have poor forward vision and fly into the suspension wires and usually die as a result. Please refer to this article https://extra.ie/2021/12/30/news/irish-news/swans-samuel-beckett-bridge
- Save-Our-Floodplain Group:The design of the roadway on the North-side of the proposed bridge will be at high level and will make a large section of the existing floodplain redundant because the road will be sitting on new embankments. In the event of any failure of the Dargle Flood Defences, the flood water will have less space to expand into, leaving our homes at a greater risk of flooding. This proposed reduction will be on top of the current and ongoing proposals to build on the floodplain, as is evidenced by recent planning applications for apartments and houses.
You can get in touch with your Councillors (please do!) and tell them this is an important topic for you and that you intend to vote based on their commitment to Save Bray! Their contact details are here; http://savebray.ie/?page_id=18
You can read about how the Swans will be effected here; http://savebray.ie/?page_id=7