Dublin city has been to the fore in contributing at national level to the implementation of policies on green infrastructure, piloting initiatives and leading innovative projects. A number of new parks and open spaces have been developed over the last few years, including Tolka Valley Park and Poppintree Park – both winners of national awards in recognition of their sustainability and community engagement. Despite the economic downturn, investment by Dublin City Council in green infrastructure has continued. Communities have become more actively involved in helping to support and manage the network, and this is a positive step toward increasing the ‘green’ resilience of Dublin city to climatic events.
Dublin City Council continues to build effective landscape partnership approaches with neighbouring local authorities, other State and semi-State bodies, non-governmental and community organisations. Recently, Dublin City Council initiated a partnership and successfully completed an application for a new Dublin Bay UNESCO Biosphere designation, www.unesco.org. Dublin City Council has actively supported the aims of the Dublin Mountains Partnership to deliver on objectives for core areas of green infrastructure for the citizens of Dublin city.
The city’s green infrastructure network includes historic parks, gardens and Georgian squares of national and international importance. Since 2011, the City Council has prepared conservation studies for many of these, including: Merrion Square, Mountjoy Square, Palmerston Park, Herbert Park and Sandymount Green. The Office of Public Works has been preparing conservation plans for properties within its management: Phoenix Park (completed), St Stephen’s Green and Grangegorman Military Cemetery (both in progress).
The city’s green infrastructure is used and enjoyed not only by its residents, but also by its visitors, and is an important component of the city’s tourism offering. Dublin City Council has developed facilities in parks to increase their capacity to host international and national cultural, historical and sporting events and competitions. Recent projects to enhance visitor facilities, which include the re-development of St Anne’s Park and Herbert Park to provide tearooms, and new tearooms at Harold’s Cross Park and St Patrick’s Park, support economic development. The recent provision of free wi-fi in parks has further enhanced their importance.
Dublin City Council has been pro-active in delivering and managing a range of sporting facilities. Multi-use games areas (MUGAs) have risen in popularity because of their appeal to different age groups. In line with national strategy, Dublin City Council is supporting initiatives to expand facilities for women and girls and is renovating existing building stock to provide accessibility for all.
In recognition of the expanding role of sport and recreation, ‘Dublin City Sport and Active Recreation Strategy 2009 – 2016’ outlines how the council can work with interested parties to deliver high-quality and sustainable sport and active recreation services. Achievements include new or upgraded changing rooms at Johnstown Park, Fairview Park, Willie Pearse Park, Bushy Park and Herbert Park; and refurbishment of the boxing club at Willie Pearse Park. Two additional new changing pavilions are due to be built in 2016 at Springdale Road and Poppintree Park.
A new all-weather training facility was constructed at Donaghmede Park. Three swimming pools were refurbished during 2014. The running track at Irishtown stadium is currently being replaced. The changing area in Markievicz Sports and Fitness centre will be completely refurbished during 2015. An extension to Ballybough Community Youth and Sports Centre is to be completed in 2015 and will accommodate a new gym facility. To encourage physical activity, the Council has provided new outdoor gyms at Clontarf Promenade, Sandymount Promenade, Edenmore Park, and John Paul Park. A further seven gyms are due to be built next year at Ellenfield Park, Dartry Park, Albert College Park, Lansdowne Valley Park, Bunting Road, Mellowes Park and Belcamp Park.
The City Council, as lead agency, has developed with its partners and published the Dublin City Play Plan ‘Play here, Play there, Play everywhere’ (2012 – 2017). In making the city more child friendly, new public playgrounds have been completed and refurbishment works to existing facilities are part of the ongoing work of the City Council, including Merrion Square, Tolka Valley Park and Neagh Road and Walkinstown Green.
The City Council has expanded significantly the availability of allotment and community gardens through both direct provision in its parks and facilitation on other sites, in accordance with the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010.