Planning Content

The Heritage Council is committed to working with individuals, heritage groups, local and national government, and other agencies and organisations, to ensure that the management of our national heritage.

Community-Led Village Design Statement Toolkit

The Community-Led Village Design Statement (VDS) Toolkit was launched at the inaugural community-led VDS workshop, held in Kilkenny in October 2012. The toolkit was prepared by the Heritage Council in partnership with Dublin City Council and Meath County Council; and in collaboration with the village communities of both Sandymount, Dublin and Julianstown, Co. Meath.

The toolkit sets out a step-by-step guide to undertaking a community-led VDS in Ireland, using a collaborative and participative process, and has been developed in accordance with the UNECE Aarhus Convention and the European Landscape Convention (ELC).

While this toolkit deals specifically with community-led VDS, it is hoped that the information and guidance provided on relevant structures, processes, outputs and potential outcomes will enable and empower local communities throughout the island of Ireland to become involved in shaping their local environments. It is also hoped that it will become a useful tool for community groups who are considering undertaking other sustainable, community-led heritage and planning projects.

View the programme for the VDS Workshop [pdf 1.28mb].

View the Community-Led Village Design Statement (VDS) Toolkit [pdf 4mb].

View the Ladder of Participation [pdf 0.9mb].

VDS Toolkit Workshop: Presentations

Please feel free to view these presentations for research or reference purposes.

National Planning Conference April 2014
"Community-Led Plan Making under the UNECE Aarhus Convention ‘Toolkit’ for Community-led Village Design Statements (CLVDS) in Ireland" [PDF 2MB]
Alison Harvey, Planning & Development Officer, The Heritage Council

Welcome & Introduction to Public Participation [pdf 1.4].
Alison Harvey, Planning Officer, the Heritage Council

Townscape & VDS [pdf 16.1mb].
Grainne Shaffrey, Conservation Architect, Shaffrey Associates

Understanding Architectural Conservation Areas [pdf 6.5mb].
Colm Murray, Architecture Officer, the Heritage Council

Sandymount VDS Experience [pdf 1.9kb].
John McAlinden, Chair of VDS Steering Group; Joe McCarthy, Vice-Chair; and Valerie Jennings, Project Manager for production of VDS.

Julianstown VDS Experience [pdf 216kb].
Emer Dolphin, Chair of VDS Steering Group & Chair of Julianstown & District Community Association

Community-led VDS Toolkit - A Step-by-Step Process [pdf 1.1mb].
Alison Harvey, Planning Officer, the Heritage Council

Funding Opportunities through LEADER: The Rural Development Programme [pdf 1.1mb].
Aoife McGrath, Project Officer, Meath Partnership

Great Western Greenway & VDS in May [pdf 12.1 mb].
Dr Deirdre Cunningham, Heritage Officer, Mayo County Council & Sean Carolan, Chairman, Mulranny Environment Group.

Comments - VDS Toolkit Workshop Attendees

Tom Dowling, Chairman of National Pride of Place and Retired Meath County Manager
“The Toolkit process created a wonderful, collaborative partnership between the Heritage Council, Meath County Council and the local village community in Julianstown and, for the first time, empowered local people to get actively involved in planning in an enjoyable and creative way. In my opinion, it’s the best collaborative and participative process that I have come across, and the Toolkit will be an enormous benefit to local communities throughout Ireland and further afield.”

Joe McCarthy, Vice Chair, Sandymount Community-led VDS Steering Group
“We were delighted to apply the community-led VDS methodology in Sandymount in cooperation with the Heritage Council and Dublin City Council to produce the first ‘Urban’ Community-led VDS.  The Sandymount VDS has led to a total resurgence in community spirit within the historic village with a large number of events taking place over the last two years in cooperation with SAMRA and the local businesses. The VDS process led directly to the adoption by the City Council of an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) Statement for Sandymount Village and Environs, which will protect our unique urban village for generations to come".

“Wonderful reminder about how good a resource the Heritage Council is.”
“The Toolkit is a fantastic resource.”
“It is great hearing from communities who have done their VDS.”
“Loved discussing character in the workshops.”
“I really enjoyed the day — I found it really inspiring!”
“The Toolkit will be excellent for consultants as well as village groups.”

“Well done on a really informative and enjoyable workshop. Everyone there was so interested and involved — it was great”
Sheila Dunne, Dublin City Council & Sandymount VDS Inter-Agency Group Member.

“Congrats on a really interesting day and well done on the Toolkit. I'm looking forward to reading through it in detail. It looks great!”

- Jacqui Donnelly, Dept.of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht.

“Good to see one of the most popular planning processes customised for villages in Ireland — the Irish Community-led Village Design Statement Toolkit is thorough, inspiring, user-friendly and humorous! … the Heritage Council and its Partners must be congratulated on a great job.”
- Endorsement from Nick Wates, Managing Director, Nick Wates Associates, UK and publisher of