This is the first strategy prepared for Dublin City Council’s Parks and Landscape Services (Parks Services). It presents the wide range of resources and services under the Parks Services portfolio and states current policy and intended actions to seek the strategic vision of a greener and more liveable Dublin. The strategy is comprised of 6 chapters which are outlined below:
Section 1. Introduction:
The introductory chapter outlines the purpose of the strategy, the expected users, its vision and objectives and the methodology. The strategic vision statement is defined as: Growing towards a greener and more liveable Dublin City.
The strategic vision of city parks and landscapes is to provide and enhance the experience of living in Dublin, working in Dublin and visiting Dublin through the provision of park resources and services befitting Ireland’s capital and its role as an international city.
Section 2. Parks and Landscapes in Perspective:
This chapter relates the development of the city landscape over time from the original natural landscape centred on the River Liffey, through the Viking and Norman period, medieval period, Georgian,Victorian and Edwardian eras and on to pre and post-war periods to contemporary Dublin. The parks and landscapes that we have today help to tell the story of the historical development of the city. The policy context in which Park Services operates, based on international, European, national and local level policy, is then reviewed.
This chapter also outlines the value of our city parks, including their contribution to meeting the recreation needs and good health of the population, contributing to the identity of the city, enhancing social and community interaction, providing environmental benefits, enhancing biodiversity and contributing to Dublin’s tourism economy. The chapter concludes with an international case study review highlighting some contemporary achievements including Singapore’s Garden City vision and New York’s One New York vision with a focus on revitalising its public spaces.
Section 3. Public Engagement:
A public online questionnaire was created in advance of the main strategy work as part of the strategy’s public consultation process and this chapter reviews the findings. The questionnaire consisted of 14 questions to determine the views of the public on park resources and services. Just under 1000 responses were received and results include the importance of parks as a local community resource, the importance of providing a balanced range of facilities within parks, the issues that act as barriers to visiting parks, the importance of recreation as the key value of parks to the city, as well as a very positive view of engaging further with parks through volunteering. The objective of engaging with the public is expanded further in this chapter with a look at volunteering and contemporary communication through digital and wayfinding methods.
Section 4. Resources and Services:
This key chapter examines the full resources and services of Parks Services and includes parks and their recreational facilities, visitor facilities, natural areas and biodiversity, public realm, public housing, cemeteries, trees, civic decoration, allotments, planning and development management, art in parks and research. Under the first chapter section a park
typology is defined, which categorises parks into Flagship and Community Parks. The quantity of parks (approximately 17% of the City Council’s administrative area) and their distribution is then analysed, which indicates an unequal city-wide
distribution. A key policy proposal of providing a range of 2.5ha to 3.6ha of parks per 1000 population is made.
Access to parks is then analysed and this indicates unequal access to flagship parks and relatively good access to community parks. In the city centre areas, while access is reasonable, it is typically to smaller sized parks. Solutions to address access and quantity deficits are outlined, including the provision of a series of new city centre parks themed on Dublin writers.
Recreational facilities (playgrounds, playing pitches, etc.) are analysed. Access to these facilities is examined on their geographical distribution and deficits are addressed.
Dublin’s natural areas and biodiversity form part of the urban ecosystem in which human activity dominates. Parks play a key role in providing natural areas and their proper management enables conservation and enhancement of biodiversity. The recent designation of the UNESCO Dublin Bay Biosphere highlights the value of the bay as Dublin’s key natural resource. The Biodiversity Action Plan, which is reviewed every 5 years, outlines our approach to biodiversity. The Parks Services
biodiversity section has a strong community engagement role, with projects involving business organisations, schools and NGOs.
Parks Services provide input into enhancing the city public realm by building on the shared vision under the Dublin City Public Realm Strategy. Key projects include the completed Liberties Greening Strategy, the current City Centre Masterplan and the Docklands Public Realm Masterplan.
Public housing remains a key issue for the City Council. Parks Services continue to play a role in design and implementation of the associated housing landscape provision including the current redevelopment of St Teresa’s Gardens and Dolphin Estate.
Park Services manages and maintains a number of smaller closed cemeteries in the city that are somewhat hidden, yet provide a curious insight into those who lived in and contributed to the development of Dublin. The Jewish cemetery in Fairview and Huguenot cemetery on Merrion Row are monuments to two distinct communities, many of whom settled
here to escape persecution in other countries. Appropriate interpretation of these graveyards is a policy initiative under this strategy.
City trees, both in public and private management, form the urban forest that benefits Dublin by greening, carbon sequestration and urban beautification. Parks Services manage public street trees and those within our parks. A new City Tree Strategy has now been prepared to comprehensively define city tree policy and present a five-year action plan. Parks Services is also active in promoting appreciation of trees in the city through tree trails and assisting with the annual National Tree Week event.
Civic decoration in the form of flags, floral decoration and Christmas trees helps to bring vibrancy to Dublin and mark particular events. Development of further civic decoration through engagement with community and business groups forms part of the proposed policy of Parks Services.
Allotments in Dublin have had a resurgence in popularity in recent years. Parks Services contributes in the provision and management of a number of allotments for public use, as they are seen as a strong community building resource. The proposed policy under this strategy is to provide allotments subject to demand and to enhance overall coordination
through the appointment of an allotment officer.
Landscape planning and development management is undertaken by Parks Services with assistance given to the Planning Department on planning application assessments and Development Plan preparation. Industry consultation through the Irish Landscape Institute was conducted as part of this strategy and areas were identified that would help improve the planning application process, including updating current guidance for landscape and arboriculture submissions.
Parks provide an outdoor gallery for art in the city and Parks Services is fortunate to hold over 30 public sculptural artworks. Parks Services in association with the Arts Office manages and promotes appreciation of art in parks. A comprehensive guide to the artwork was recently completed as well as a smartphone multi-lingual guide to the popular Oscar Wilde sculpture in Merrion Square. The proposed policy includes the desire for a more equitable distribution of public art across city parks and assessing the potential to create a Dublin City Sculpture Park.
Parks Services uses and commissions research that directly contributes to its role in planning, designing, implementing and managing its resources. Current research includes conservation studies on historic parks as well as a Dublin Tree Canopy Study in partnership with UCD, the OPW and the other Dublin local authorities.
Section 5. City Landscape Vision:
This chapter presents a broader discussion of the city landscape under the headings of the coast, arrivals and departures, the inner and outer city landscape and city waterways. It sets out broader concepts for the city landscape and will act as a precursor to more detailed city landscape plans, commencing with our waterways and coast, which aim to bring these concepts to reality.
Section 6. Implementation:
In this concluding chapter the implementation of the proposed actions described in the strategy are categorised into short (1-5 year) medium (5- 10 year) and long-term (10 year plus) actions. As this is the first parks strategy, it is expected that conditions and constraints affecting delivery of actions will change over time and this will be reflected in future strategy versions.