4.13 Planning and Development Management

Parks Services assist the City Council’s Planning Department in the area of forward planning and development control .The key policy relating to this area of work is within the Dublin City Development Plan, which is produced every five years.

Guidance on landscape and open space is provided for in the: “Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas ” (2009). This provides detailed guidance on the provision of open space in new development areas, which is considered one of the key elements in defining quality of development. They advocate approaching the provision of open space on a hierarchical basis, from the strategic level down to more detailed plans, such as local area plans. The guidelines emphasise the need for quality in public open spaces in terms of design, accessibility, biodiversity and passive supervision. There should also be a clear definition between public, semiprivate and private spaces.

The Parks Service has also produced its own guidance in the document: ”Guidelines for Open Space Development and Taking in Charge” which is available on the City Council’s website.

Development control includes providing guidance and advice on development proposals with regard to open space, landscape, greening, biodiversity and arboriculture. During the development management process, input is provided at the following stages:

  • Planning guidance through the Development Plan and stand alone guidance documents.
  • Pre-application meetings with applicants and their agents.
  • Provision of observations on submitted planning applications.
  • Facilitating handover of public open space.
  • Advice on compliance with planning approval conditions.
  • Advice on enforcement issues.

The key trends and issues that are occurring in the ongoing development of the city are related to the overall intensification of development within the finite space available. This puts pressure on existing landscape resources, such as trees, which require certain spatial conditions to survive. There is concern about the loss of existing trees, in particular large canopy species within the city and greater cooperation between those involved in development and Parks Services is required to maximise their retention on sites.

The ongoing demand for more development space in the city involves the redevelopment of institutional lands. These lands, such as convents and colleges, typically contain a cluster of buildings within a parkland landscape. They usually contain significant trees and have in many cases served as publically accessible private open space within the locality. In their subsequent re-development, the open space provision and layout of new development should maximise the retention of trees and provide accessible recreation to serve the local area. Where original buildings are retained the open space provision should also allow for the conservation of their visual setting, such as by retaining original driveway approaches and frontages.

The removal of playing fields for development purposes is also a concern in the city, This is due to the potential displacement of users and their need to find alternative facilities, which may not be available or not readily accessible.

The development of public open space over structures, such as underground carparks, is also becoming more frequent. In these cases the design and structural loading capabilities of the subsurface structures require an integrated approach with the open space proposals above. In all cases the provision of a fully designed public open space with required recreational facilities shall not be compromised. The future maintenance responsibility of such provisions, if taken in charge by the City Council, will require clear delineation vertically both in drawings and physically within the development.

There is greater potential impact on remaining natural spaces in the city, such as along river courses, as the demand for more and more development increases and the population also increases. Parks Services will practice conservation of such spaces, in particular where no conservation designations exist, so that natural habitats are retained and biodiversity is protected.

Planning Process Issues Raised Potential Solutions
Pre-Planning Application
  • Quality of guidance on landscape & biodiversity issues, e.g.: translation of LAPs from zoning plans not always achieved.
  • Need for DCC Parks to attend pre-planning meetings where development approach is determined
  • Refer to DCC Planning Dept.
  • DCC Parks to discuss with Planning Dept. on regular meeting attendance.

Planning Application

  • Quality of landscape submissions- e.g. use of stock photography of developments may not describe the reality of the design. Variation across Councils in detail of information sought at this stage - e.g. Bills of quantity are excessive.
  • DCC Parks aspirations at this stage versus reality of actual maintenance levels for public open space. 
  • Public open space requirements-financial contributions versus provision of open space –relevance of small% of open space provision? 
  • Conservation of trees & hedgerows, need for flexibility on retention.
  • DCC Parks to update current guide document – (preferably with other Dublin Local Authorities) Content & quality of landscape submission to be fully described-use of a checklist for submission. Perception of a public park to be described. Public open space provision over private structures to be included. Standards in tree pits allowing local variation. Application of bonds. Green roofs.
  • Country-wide application of guidance- ILI & DECLG?
  • DCC Park strategy to guide financial contributions based on open space deficit mapping.
  • Site specific approach to vegetation retention.
Development Construction
  • Landscape Architects appointed for planning applications may not be retained by developer, therefore who checks the quality of the construction of the approved landscape proposals?
  • Fingal & DLR active at construction stages. DCC Parks to inspect public open space construction.
  • ILI promotion to the construction industry.
Completion & Operation
  • Compliance of constructed landscape with approved plans-who checks?
  • Planning approval condition requiring applicants’ Landscape Architects to certify their opinion on compliance of constructed landscape with planning approval.