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Children and Young People Reimagine Dundrum

13.02.19

In summer and autumn 2018 the IAF worked with community group Imagine Dundrum in their efforts to influence the future development of Dundrum Village, and in particular the Dundrum

Local Area Plan (LAP) currently being prepared by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. In particular, Imagine Dundrum approached us to help consult children and young people what they want from their village in the future. As such, we conducted workshops with fifth class students from Taney Parish Primary School and Holy Cross Primary School, fifth year students of St. Benildus College and children and families in attendance at Open House Dublin 2018. We were helped along the way by local historian John Lennon, architect and urbanist Eduardo Rico of Relational Urbanism and architect Patrick Dunne.

Every session followed a walking tour with John, giving a detailed insight into the heritage of the village. The tour gave a rich history and background to Dundrum main street and the site of the old shopping centre and helped to set the context for the task of reimagining Dundrum for the future. With the older students, Patrick explained the basic framework of local area plans and county development plans, and how they are used by planning authorities to direct future development of an area. The students discussed the roles of developers, construction professionals, planners and the general public in policy making and design of future towns. He explained that the community are welcome to contribute of these plans and have their say in the formation of development policy.

The sessions with every group of children and young people culminated with creative activities designed to elicit ideas around the future of Dundrum, encouraging them to imagine not only what they would like to see in their village but what others might want and need too. They drew and mapped, they considered movement by walking, crawling and dancing on heat sensitive surfaces to track their movements, they mulled over big ideas and small details and they discussed the materials, character and qualities they would like to see in future designs.

Imagine Dundrum has ambitions for Dundrum village to be developed sensitively and sustainably, with consideration of its existing built heritage, provision for pedestrians and cyclists, support of small, local, independent businesses, sufficient affordable housing and adequate provision of cultural and civic amenities. They raise concerns around the main street of the village, its arterial streets and the site of the old Dundrum Shopping Centre, now in the hands of the developers Hammerson. When speaking to children and young people, they have noted shared concerns, as well as a desire for play space, green space, facilities for swimming and other sports, retail provision and cultural spaces. In their submission, Imagine Dundrum noted, ‘A striking feature of the ideas and wishes of children was their empathy for others besides themselves. They spoke about the need for places that were good for older people, people with disabilities and parents with buggies.’

Crucially, Imagine Dundrum notes the importance of involving children and young people in the planning and design process and urges the council to pick up where their work has left off: ‘Imagine Dundrum believes that engaging children in the urban design and planning process has value that goes well beyond the learning and insights that it delivers for children and young people, though these insights are crucial. It helps to create a sense of place and a pride in that place. It lays the roots of community engagement and belonging, that can last a lifetime… We propose that in preparing the plan, the planners and other personnel responsible for the public realm and community planning would engage directly with children and young people and hear their voices and ideas.’

You can read Imagine Dundrum’s full submission to dlrCoCo fa79d2_bce94e5a226349b68aea4e4add0ebe93 and follow their progress on their website [https://www.imaginedundrum.ie/]. Their submission was one of a remarkable 153 submissions made by members of the Dundrum community in the pre-draft consultation phase of the development of the Dundrum LAP. Based on these submissions, dlrCoCo will publish a draft LAP in summer 2019 which will be put out for further consultation.

The Irish Architecture Foundation worked with Imagine Dundrum as part of our Reimagine… programme of nationwide community engagement projects, funded by Creative Ireland. Are you interested in working with us on an issue of importance in your local area? Contact Anne, the IAF’s Engagement Officer, at engagement@architecturefoundation.ie or 01 874 7205