Heritage Council


Community-Led Village Design Statements Toolkit Scoops National Planning Award

L to R: Clare Burke, Emer Dolphin and Niamh Bn Ui Loinsigh (all Julianstown & District Community Association/JDCA), Mary Crowley (President of IPI), Alison Harvey (Heritage Council), Minister Fergus O’Dowd T.D., Jackie O’Shea (JDCA), Dara Keogh (GeoDirectory), Conor Linehan (William Fry Solicitors).

The Heritage Council's Community-Led Village Design Statements Toolkit has won the "Innovative Planning Practices & Procedures Award" at the recent National Planning Awards conferred by the Irish Planning Institute.

The Irish Planning Institute's National Planning Awards seek to recognise and celebrate outstanding planning achievements at all levels. The IPI considers the Awards to be a fundamental initiative to celebrate the role and development of spatial planning in Ireland, to reward examples of planning solutions and to promote the dissemination of good planning practice amongst practitioners, decision makers, stakeholders and citizens. The Awards honour recent projects, plans and programmes, which have made an outstanding contribution to the quality of life in urban and rural Ireland and internationally.

The Community-led VDS TOOLKIT (100 pages including Eight pull out Fact Sheets) was developed in collaboration with the village communities in Julianstown (Rural Pilot) and Sandymount (Urban Pilot) along with Planning Officers and Conservation Officers in Meath County Council and Dublin City Council. It is a colourful, practical and user-friendly resource with a clear Step by Step guide (using an equine theme) and includes Useful Tips, Lessons Learned and Checklists to assist communities in developing and delivering their own VDS Statements. Process outcomes include a Shared Vision, Agreed Design Principles and an Agreed VDS Action Plan all contained in one document — the ‘Community-led Village Design Statement’. 

Other organisations have adopted the collaborative approach designed by the Heritage Council and Partners, which is set out in the TOOLKIT. The Community-led VDS approach has been adopted by Meath Partnership/LEADER (please refer to their Village Renaissance Programme, introduced in 2011 following discussions with the Heritage Council) and Wicklow Partnership/LEADER circulated 80 copies of the Toolkit to local community groups during a training seminar in November 2012 involving the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Heritage Council’s Planning Officer. Local Authority Planning Departments are also purchasing published copies of the TOOLKIT to assist in the review of their county development plans and in meeting their obligations of the UNECE Aarhus Convention, e.g. Mayo County Council, South Tipperary County Council, and South Dublin County Council. In addition, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s Environmental Awareness Unit has formally requested the use of the TOOLKIT to demonstrate implementation of the UNECE Aarhus Convention in Ireland.

The TOOLKIT is available to download for free here and published copies are available to purchase for €10. Please contact Alison Harvey at aharvey@heritagecouncil.ie  or T. 056 7770777.

Jury Citation on the project:
“The judging panel was particularly impressed by this submission because of its far-reaching ability to enable village communities (both urban and rural) to seize the initiative and implement their own village design statements. 

By linking communities to the decision-making process, this resource helps build trust in the planning system and provides the community with a valuable tool to enhance local distinctiveness, sense of place and socio-economic regeneration. 

It is already considered by the Department of the Environment to demonstrate implementation of the Aarhus Convention in Ireland as it promotes participatory democracy at local level. 

This submission demonstrates the abilities of planners as project managers of multi-disciplinary teams strengthening the role of planning profession at 

national and European level. It has the potential to reach to an even a wider area with a pilot European project already underway in Bosnia.” 

You can view the National Planning Awards Offical Awards Guide here

View the Exhibition Boards designed as part of the IPI National Awards process and displayed with the other entrants at an exhibition at Dublin Castle on the evening of the Awards below.
Board 1 & Board 2