M11 upgrade will ‘devastate’ Wicklow’s historic houses and gardens
Controversial plans to upgrade the M11 motorway will have a devastating impact on some of Wicklow’s most protected buildings, historic gardens and landscapes, conservationists have warned.
The Irish Georgian Society (IGS) has heavily criticised the suggested routes for the road improvement and the “apparent lack of any consideration” to their impact on the area.
Plans to ease traffic congestion along a 22km section of the N11/M11 in south Dublin and north Wicklow were unveiled in recent weeks.
Seven proposed options include one widening the existing route through the Glen o’ the Downs nature reserve. Another involves an 8km western bypass of the glen. Two other options would cut Delgany golf course. Others include new sections off the existing motorway between Bray and Kilmacanogue, near Rocky Valley or rising towards the Little Sugarloaf.
However, Donough Cahill, executive director of the IGS, has urged Wicklow County Council to scrap all of the published options.
He has written to the local authority detailing “serious concerns” about their impact on protected buildings, including Dargle Cottage, Kilcroney House, Hollybrook House, Tinnapark House and Mount Kennedy House as well as Bellvue Demesne.
“The current road improvement scheme would have a devastating impact on the distinctive character of an area which has drawn visitors for centuries and would see the irretrievable loss or significant diminution of multiple sites through demolition or massive earth works,” Mr Cahill warned.
“Ireland’s architectural heritage and its historic gardens and designed landscapes are intrinsic to the multi-layered character of its countryside.
“This is particularly evident in County Wicklow, where its picturesque landscapes have been celebrated since the 18th century through the work of artists and writers, and continues through to the present day with the county having deservedly earned the moniker of ‘Garden of Ireland’.
“If any of the various corridor options proposed for the N11/M11 improvement scheme are implemented, they would have a devastating impact on some of the county’s most important protected structures, historic gardens, and designed and natural landscapes.”
Wicklow County Council said it was at the start of a lengthy public consultation process on the roadworks “which seeks to be both informative and collaborative”.
“We understand that interested parties have their views and concerns, and we welcome all input into the process,” a spokesman told the Irish Times.