It’s a taste of what’s to come. More on-street dining zones will be served up in Cork city centre over the coming days as diners embrace the city’s first eat-on-the-street experience.
Diners have been flocking to Prince's St to dine al-fresco since Monday and approval is expected within days to allow dining in car-parking spaces on MacCurtain St, it has emerged as City Hall encourages food businesses elsewhere to unite, devise a “coherent and comprehensive” eat-on-the-street proposal for their area, and engage with City Hall.
But proposals for a one-way pedestrian system in the narrow historic streets between St Patrick's St and Paul St have been scrapped after significant opposition emerged during public consultation.
The news comes as the Lord Mayor, Cllr Joe Kavanagh, visited Prince’s Street today to experience the eat-on-the-street zone himself.
David Joyce, the head of operations with Cork City Council, defended the length of time it took to approve the project, first unveiled as a concept in April, and said it would have been wrong to implement it without the consultation he said helped identify unforeseen impacts. But he said the council is delighted with the reimagined street use.
“We need to do something different, something unique, to get people back into the city,” he said.
“We are working with many streets to do different things but every street has a different character, different shops and food businesses and we are working with different streets to deliver change.”
A decision on the MacCurtain St eat-on-the-street proposal is due within days.
“It’s a proposal that will require changes on both sides of the road. It’s a much bigger proposal than Prince’s St but it is an exciting proposal and we are confident that it will significantly enhance the area and will be well received,” Mr Joyce said.
Smaller al-fresco dining proposals are being considered along Union Quay, and on Caroline St and Beasley St, which are pedestrianised between 11am and 5pm.
Separately, he said more welcoming signage at recently pedestrianised streets is being prepared.
Mr Joyce said under roads legislation, a local authority must erect a ‘road closed’ sign to ensure it can enforce the closure of a street to vehicular traffic but he said new 'more welcoming signage' will be in place in just over a week.
“It will be positive signage, informing people that while the road is closed to traffic, it is open to business,” he said.
Meanwhile, public consultation is due to start within 10 days on pedestrianisation proposals for Liberty St, Cross St, Castle St and Daunt Square.
And Cork County Council plans to trial the closure to traffic of Kinsale’s Short Quay and the Sunday closure of its Main St, to help restaurants, hotels and bars in Ireland’s gourmet capital.
If the temporary closures are successful, then other times and locations may be considered.