An Bord Pleanála has refused permission for 18 advertising panels, which were to be erected as part of the Dublin city bike rental scheme, largely on the grounds that they would endanger public safety.
The signs were part of the deal between Dublin City Council and international advertising company JC Decaux to swap advertising space at locations around the city, estimated to be worth in the region of €1million annually, for 450 bicycles and four public toilets.
The council had granted permission for 96 advertising structures approximately half of which were similar in size to bus shelters at 2.59sq m, while the remainder were "Metropoles"larger panels of 7sq m standing on poles two metres off the ground.
An Taisce and a number of local residents, city councillors and business people appealed 24 of the council's decisions to An Bord Pleanála.
The planning board held a public hearing on the 24 cases last October. The inspector who conducted the hearing recommended that all 24 applications be rejected, however, the board decided to allow six of the signs.
The six permitted structures are in areas of the city with some of the highest pedestrian footfall. All are on the northside with five of the structures in the Henry Street/Liffey Street area and one in Smithfield.
Despite strong objections from Arnotts and others, the board allowed these signs, all of which are bus-shelter size, on the grounds that they did not interfere with pedestrian or traffic safety and the impact on the character of the setting would be "insignificant".
The board, however, refused all of the larger 7sq m structures that came before it.
Similar reasons for refusal were given in most of the 18 cases. The main reason given was that the signs would "distract the attention of motorists and other road users to an undue degree" and would "endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard".
The board also found that the large signs were "overbearing and insensitive" to the character of the surrounding location.
The refusals support the Dublin Transportation Office position, put forward at the oral hearing, that the signs located on busy roads would constitute a traffic hazard.
However, the remaining signs not appealed to the board and the six allowed by the board, can now go ahead.
The council said the 18 refusals will not affect its deal with JC Decaux and the number of bicycles promised will not be reduced. It has yet to announce a date for the introduction of the bike scheme, or the proposed rental cost of a bicycle, but hopes it will be in place this year.
A working group has been set up in the council to determine the location of the 50 bicycle stations in the city.
The Irish Times