15.6 - Green Infrastructure and Landscaping

This section sets out the requirements in relation to the assessment and incorporation of biodiversity, green infrastructure and landscaping into development proposals. See also Chapter 10 and Dublin City Biodiversity Action Plan 2021 – 2025.

Planning applications will be required to address climate action as part of the overall design of the development and incorporate green infrastructure techniques. All new developments in the city are encouraged to incorporate an ecosystem services approach as a key instrument in achieving sustainable climate change action in accordance with Policy GI5 and GI6.

The proposal should indicate how existing natural features of the site will inform sustainable urban form and should include the following:

  • Analysis of the potential for the retention and integration of existing natural features, such as watercourses, mature planting and topography; this approach, in accordance with the National Landscape Strategy 2015–2025, ensures the landscape character of the area is retained and informs the proposed design.
  • The connectivity of proposed open spaces to adjoining existing open space or natural assets should also be considered with reference to the city’s green infrastructure in this development plan (Chapter 10) and any relevant local area plan(s); for sites which provide or adjoin habitats for species designated under the European Union Habitats Directive, Article 10 of the directive shall apply in regard to the need to provide connectivity and ‘stepping stones’ to ensure biodiversity protection.
  • Potential applicants should refer to the Dublin City Biodiversity Action Plan 2021 – 2025 or subsequent plans and consult the City Council’s Parks, Biodiversity and Landscape Services Division to ascertain the significance of any ecologically sensitive areas which it may be appropriate to retain or integrate into a landscape plan. In such cases, the ecological attributes of the site and the impact of any development should be considered prior to final design.

15.6.1 Green Infrastructure

To support the green infrastructure network, any proposed development for sites which adjoin either core areas or any buffering parks and open spaces shall include an assessment of impacts on biodiversity and make provision for enhancement of ecological features.

The following measures to strengthen the city green infrastructure (GI) network plan will be required.

  • Increase habitat protection to support the wider GI network.
  • Provide additional green space to meet deficiencies in connectivity of the GI network.
  • Ensure retention of mature habitats and provide for long-term ecological succession.
  • Increase connections and improve accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists to the wider GI network.
  • The use of drainage systems (SuDs) and soft/ nature-based engineering solutions for surface water management to control the rate of run-off, protect water quality and mitigate the environmental impacts of flooding and erosion.
  • Provide for public access to ensure that the benefits of access to the GI network is available to all citizens.
  • Ensure that proposed developments do not create negative impacts on the existing GI network.

15.6.2 Surface Water Management and SuDs

All new developments will be required to prepare a Surface Water Management Plan in accordance with the requirements of the Council’s Surface Water Management Guidance (see Appendix 13.)

All new developments will also be required to utilise SuDS measures in accordance with Policy SI22 of the development plan. The SuDS measures shall be set out clearly in an assessment of the drainage details prepared by a qualified Engineer. Appendix 12 sets out further detail regarding SuDS and should be consulted by all applicants.

15.6.3 Green / Blue Roofs

Dublin City Council will require all new development projects over 100 sq. metres to provide green roofs to assist in climate action and urban drainage in accordance with Policy SI23. Refer to Appendix 11 for further details.

15.6.4 Green Wall / Living Wall

Green walls or living walls are self-sustaining vertical gardens that are attached to the exterior or interior of a building. Where possible, larger schemes shall consider the use of green walls to improve the environment, absorb and filter stormwater, reduce pollution, mitigate any potential heat island effect and decrease carbon emissions. It shall be the policy of Dublin City Council that the installation of living green walls should be encouraged to the fullest possible extent throughout the city of Dublin.

15.6.5 Urban Greening

All applications for large scale development will be encouraged to facilitate urban greening through the provision of tree planting, pocket parks, green roofs, green walls etc. The provision of urban greening methods improves the overall quality of the environment and enhances the well-being in accordance with policy CA29 and GI16.


15.6.6 Sensitive Ecological Areas

Sensitive ecological areas can include protected areas such as SPA’s, SAC’s and NHA’s as well as areas with significant tree cover and vegetation capable of facilitating habitats, or any other landscaped area with quality natural environment or sensitive natural features. Regard to such areas must be made in any development proposal.

Where a proposed development adjoins a sensitive ecological area such as a river or canal bank, the area adjacent to the waterway should be retained as a riparian corridor with linkages into the wider open space network. The maintenance of natural river banks shall be required, without physical or visual encroachment on watercourses. See also policy SI10.

The width of any linear park adjacent to a waterway should take into account the natural topography, existing layout and amenity potential with due allowance for riparian corridors and flood risk. In all cases, any existing blockages to permeability, such as boundaries or redundant buildings, should be resolved where possible. See Chapter 9, Section 9.5.2 and also policies SI10, SI11 and SI12, and objectives SIO7 and SIO8 on River Restoration.

Full public access to lands along waterways which are in private ownership as part of any development proposal should be provided unless exceptional circumstances prevail.

All of the main rivers in Dublin city have salmonid populations. Therefore, applicants should also demonstrate legal compliance to protect the watercourses and fisheries from soil, silt or other material during construction and in this regard should liaise with Inland Fisheries Ireland. As many protected species inhabit Dublin’s rivers, applicants should consult with the National Parks and Wildlife Service to inquire as to any consent procedures required for proposed works and to ensure that design layouts do not cause habitat loss. In the case of proposals adjacent to a canal, appropriate space should be retained for wildlife and it should also be ensured that wildlife have appropriate access to the water.

Applicants should consult the Dublin City Council Biodiversity Action Plan 2021-2025 and the Dublin City Canals Plan (Waterways Ireland in conjunction with Dublin City Council, Fáilte Ireland and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority) to ascertain the implications of these plans for any such site. Regard should also be had to Planning for Watercourses in the Urban Environment Guidance (2020) produced by Inland Fisheries Ireland.

15.6.7 Landscape Design Rationale

Landscaping in the urban environment can have multiple advantages for citizens and can enhance quality of life. As well as providing an attractive visual context and contributing to the healthy placemaking of an area, landscaping can improve sustainability and resilience by assisting with surface water management and biodiversity.

Landscape design and maintenance plans will be regarded as an integral part of all development applications. The incorporation of landscape features to protect and support biodiversity and to ensure the existing landscaping and environments are protected will be required as part of all applications. Landscaping schemes must be in accordance with Dublin City Council standards for road and footpath layout, and there will be a preference for soft landscaping, where possible.

It will be a requirement of planning permission that all planting takes place in the first planting and seeding seasons following occupation of the building or completion of the development, whichever is the sooner, and that any trees or plants which, within a period of 5 years from the completion of the development, die, are removed, and that any which become seriously damaged or diseased are replaced in the next planting season.

All landscaping works associated with a development will be required to be complete prior to the occupation of the development. This will be a condition attached to relevant planning decisions.

Further information can be obtained in the document ‘Guidelines for Open Space Development and Taking in Charge’ (2009).

Hard landscaping, including paving and street furniture, is an important element in defining the character of the spaces between buildings and public open spaces. Hard landscaping works can help to provide visual links, define and enclose space, and delineate public from private space. They can provide security to private areas, play space for children, and also areas for sitting and relaxing. Hard landscaping can also help distinguish between areas for different transport modes.

Materials must be appropriate, durable and of a good quality. Careful consideration must be given to the design of hard-surfaced areas including streets, squares, open spaces, paved areas, footpaths and driveways. The texture and colour of materials must be sympathetic to the locality and be an integral part of the design. Areas of schemes to be taken in charge by Dublin City should be designed with reference to the palette of materials used by the local authority to ensure later maintenance and replacement of materials in the upkeep of the area by the local authority. See also Appendix 5, Section 8.2 and 8.3.

Applications for substantial hard-surfaced areas must demonstrate methods of controlling and limiting surface water run-off consistent with sustainable development (see also Appendix 12 and 13).

15.6.8 Landscape Plans and Design Reports

Applications for 1,000+ sq. m. of commercial development or 30+ residential units, or other applications where the planning authority consider it necessary should be accompanied by a landscape design report. A Landscape Design Report sets out the landscape strategy for the scheme through the use of drawings, illustrations and species specification documents. A landscape report should describe the public open space and communal open space provided within a scheme to demonstrate compliance with the relevant guidelines. Boundary treatments and public realm improvements should also be illustrated within landscape plans.

On sites with extensive vegetation and tree coverage, a separate tree report should also be incorporated into the landscape design report to support the retention of trees where possible. Landscape proposals should also take account of the biodiversity and environmental habitats present on the site and within the surrounding area and set out proposals to enhance and protect these features (see Sections 15.6.6, 15.6.9 and 15.6.10 for further details).

Landscape design reports should address the following:

  • The protection and incorporation of existing tress and landscape features worthy of retention.
  • The contribution of the proposed development to the landscape character and setting and open space amenity of the area.
  • The value of ecological corridors and habitats surrounding the proposed development and the potential impact on these areas.
  • The relationship between existing green corridors, public open spaces or area of high ecological values.
  • The detail and specifications for materials, finishes and maintenance details.
  • The integration of sustainable urban drainage systems such that landscaping plans may include associated biodiversity areas or wetlands which can reduce surface water run-off – see Appendix 12 and 13.
  • The hierarchy of different types of planting throughout the development in order to give visual variety. Green roofs, walls and permeable surfaces will be encouraged and required in certain instances (see Chapter 10 and Appendix 11).
  • The details of ecosystems services and biodiversity including pollinator friendly approach.
  • The maintenance and management strategy for the landscaped features.

15.6.9 Trees and Hedgerows

Trees and hedgerows add a sense of character, maturity and provide valuable screening, shelter and privacy and will often have a useful life expectancy beyond the life of new buildings. Dublin City Council will seek to protect existing trees and hedgerows when granting planning permission for developments and will seek to ensure maximum retention, preservation and management of important trees, groups of trees, and hedges as set out in Section 10.5.7 of the plan.

The Dublin City Tree Strategy 2021 provides the vision and direction for long term planning, planting, protection and maintenance of trees, hedgerows and woodlands within Dublin city. The Ancient and Species Rich Hedgerow Survey of Dublin City as detailed in Chapter 10, Section 10.5.7 also provides a description and assessment of the hedgerows within the city and can be used to identify key lines of hedging.

Dublin City Council will encourage and promote tree planting in the planning and design of private and public developments. New tree planting should be planned, designed, sourced, planted and managed in accordance with ‘BS 8545:2014 Trees: from nursery to independence in the landscape – Recommendations’. New planting proposals should take account of the context within which a tree is to be planted and plant appropriate tree species for the location.

A tree survey must be submitted where there are trees within a proposed planning application site, or on land adjacent to an application site that could influence or be affected by the development. Information will be required on which trees are to be retained and on the means of protecting these trees during construction works. Where development is proposed, it is essential that existing trees are considered from the very earliest stages of design and prior to an application for planning permission being submitted. Root systems, stems and canopies, with allowance for future movement and growth, need to be taken into account in all projects.

The following criteria shall be taken into account by Dublin City Council in assessing planning applications on sites where there are significant individual trees or groups/ lines of trees, in order to inform decisions either to protect and integrate trees into the scheme, or to permit their removal:

  • Habitat/ecological value of the trees and their condition.
  • Uniqueness/rarity of species.
  • Contribution to any historical setting/ conservation area.
  • Significance of the trees in framing or defining views.
  • Visual and amenity contribution to streetscape.

15.6.10         Tree Removal

Where a proposal impacts on trees within the public realm, a revised design will need to be considered to avoid conflicts with street trees. Where a conflict is unavoidable and where a tree, located on-street, requires removal to facilitate a new development or widened vehicular entrance and cannot be conveniently relocated within the public domain, then when agreed by Parks Services and the Planning Department by way of condition to a grant of permission, a financial contribution will be required in lieu. The financial contribution is calculated by the Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT) by an Arboriculturist. The payment is required to be lodged with Dublin City Council before the tree can be removed.

15.6.11         Financial Securities

Where trees and hedgerows are to be retained, the Council will require a developer to lodge a financial security to cover any damage caused to them either accidentally or otherwise as a result of non-compliance with agreed/specified on-site tree-protection measures. Types of securities include a cash deposit, an insurance bond or such other liquid asset as may be agreed between a developer and the planning authority. The security will be returned on completion of the development once it is established that the trees/hedgerows are in a satisfactory condition and have not been unnecessarily damaged by development works. Where damage occurs, the sum deducted from the tree security (or bond/other financial security) will be calculated in accordance with a recognised tree valuation system (e.g. Helliwell, CAVAT).

15.6.12         Public Open Space and Recreation

Public open space should be of high quality landscaped design to provide for an amenity value. Public open space should utilise a combination of hard and soft landscaping to cater for a wide range of needs such as children’s play, passive recreation and sporting facilities. Where adjacent to canals or rivers, proposals must take into account the functions of a riparian corridor and possible flood plain, see Section 10.5.5 Rivers and Canals and Section 9.5.2 on River Restoration.

All applications which include areas of open space should refer to the Dublin City Council Parks Strategy 2017-2022 or any further iteration for guidance on the design and aspirations for city parks. Planning applications including any open space area (public or communal) should incorporate green infrastructure strategies including SuDs, flood management, biodiversity, outdoor recreation, connection and carbon absorption in accordance with Policy GI24 of the plan. See Section 10.5.4 and 15.8.6 for further details.

In areas with a deficit of public open space in the city centre, SuDS proposals will be supported where it can be demonstrated that they have positive recreational and biodiversity functions. Any SuDS proposal that would negatively impinge on the conservation objectives of a historic park will not be supported.

The planning authority will seek the provision of public open space in all residential schemes (see Section 15.8.6) and commercial developments in excess of 5,000 sq. m.

Dublin City Council will seek the following in the delivery of public open space:

  • The design and layout of the open space should complement the layout of the surrounding built environment and complement the site layout.
  • Open space should be overlooked and designed to ensure passive surveillance is achieved.
  • The space should be visible from and accessible to the maximum number of users.
  • Inaccessible or narrow unusable spaces will not be accepted.
  • The level of daylight and sunlight received within the space shall be in accordance with the BRE guidelines or any other supplementary guidance document – see Appendix 16.
  • Any new public open space on the site should be contiguous to existing open space or natural feature (i.e. river corridors and canal bank) to encourage visual continuity and optimise value of ecological networks.
  • Protect and incorporate existing trees that are worthy of retention into the design of new open spaces.
  • Retain and incorporate other existing natural features into the design to reinforce local identity, landscape character, and amenity.
  • Landscaping works should be integrated with overall surface water management and SuDS strategy such that landscaping plans may include associated biodiversity areas or wetlands which can reduce / better manage surface water run-off.
  • Landscaping schemes should provide a hierarchy of different types of planting throughout the development in order to give visual variety. Permeable surfaces will be encouraged (see Appendix 12).
  • Materials must be appropriate, durable and of a good quality. The texture and colour of materials must be sympathetic to the locality and be an integral part of the design.
  • Street furniture should be sited such that it does not provide an obstacle for people with disabilities and should be designed so that it is fully accessible where feasible.
  • Age friendly measures should be incorporated into the design.
  • Permeability and accessibility for all users, particularly disabled persons should be provided.
  • Cycle and pedestrian friendly routes should be accommodated.

15.6.13         Boundary Treatments

Walls, fences, metal railings and gates used to define spaces and their usage all impact on the visual character and the quality of a development. These should be selected so as to be an integrated part of overall design.

Details of all existing and proposed boundary treatments, including vehicular entrance details, should be submitted as part of any planning application. These shall include details in relation to proposed materials, finishes, and, in the case of planted boundaries, details in respect of species together with a planting schedule. In all instances, boundary treatments shall be of high quality, durable and attractive.