The news is spreading in Fingal that An Bord Pleanála (ABP) has granted permission for the construction of a 6 km Greenway from Malahide Castle across the Broadmeadow estuary to reach Newbridge House & Farm (permission granted May 19th). This news has a particular resonance with me and my colleagues in the Skerries Cycling Initiative (SCI). Why is it so important to us?! A brief history will answer that.
As far back as 2008 we made a submission to the Dublin Transportation Office as it was then, advocating the creation of a cycleway from Balbriggan to Bray, noting that the Sutton-to-Sandycove cycleway concept was receiving attention from local authorities but the needs of cyclists north of Sutton along the coast were not being addressed. Then, in August 2009, the rail viaduct at Malahide collapsed and was repaired by November. But before the restoration contractors had departed the scene, the government and Iarnród Éireann brilliantly offered them the job of sinking the piers of a pedestrian/cyclist bridge across the estuary into the seabed. Those piers are there now, all 13 of them, and this will make the task of creating the Broadmeadow Way much easier. The following year, the SCI participated in an effort to organise a meeting between Fingal County Council, Iarnród Éireann and local representatives to discuss the bridge and how to promote cycling on the Fingal coast but the circumstances were not right at the time.
In 2013 the SCI wrote to the DTO’s replacement (sort of), the National Transport Authority, about their draft cycle network plan for the Greater Dublin Area and we again tried to sell the idea of what we then called “The Fingal Coast & Castle Way”. We wrote:
“This cycleway was conceived as one which not only provided excellent tourist and recreational coastal cycling, but also included direct links to major heritage and tourist-attractive sites along the way, such as Ardgillan Castle, Skerries Mills, Rogerstown Estuary, Newbridge House & Farm, Broadmeadow Estuary and Malahide Castle. Such a cycleway offers Fingal a genuine tourist product. ”
You can see how the Broadmeadow Way in our minds was critical to our overall goal of getting the Fingal Coastal Way – as it is now called – constructed.
In 2014 a public consultation process for the Broadmeadow Way began. The SCI made a submission, advocating that the cycle/pedestrian track continue along the rail line as far as the Corballis Road, followed by a left turn up to the R126 and the gates of Newbridge House & Farm. Again we tried to put this cycleway into the context of the Fingal Coastal Way, a plan which “embraces both cycling and the local amenity and heritage connections which powerfully raise the tourism profile of the cycleway.”
For the Fingal Coastal Way to work, two estuary crossings are required: one across the Broadmeadow estuary, which happily has been granted permission, and the second across the Rogerstown estuary. This latter project must now take centre stage in the development of this marvellous Greenway.