The Windy Arbour Playground Campaign

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Response to DLR's Draft Green Spaces Strategy

Posted by Shan on September 9, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Congratulations to the DLR County Council Team headed by Senior Parks officer Leslie Moore, which has produced this important strategy document identifying most of DLR’s Parks and green spaces and rating  them in terms of their quantity and quality.

The draft strategy document highlights the importance of parks, playgrounds and green spaces in building and maintaining sustainable communities, in encouraging biodiversity and supporting wildlife, all of which the Windy Arbour Playground Campaign agrees with.  



l DLR has 30 play facilities In total, aimed at children aged 0-14 years.

DLR’s regional playgrounds are located in Marley Park, its one of its three Flagship  Parks in the Glencullen electoral area,  and in The Stillorgan and Dun Laoghaire areas.  


The Strategy report tell us there are almost 50,000 children living in the County and that although play provision is generally seen as  good across DLR, there are significant gaps identified, notably  in Windy Arbour, Clonskeagh and  Milltown, where the report  says play provision for  teenagers, toddlers and junior children all needs to be improved as a matter of priority.

 The report  says that Dundrum has the worst play provision in the County. It makes clear that more and better local playgrounds are needed, and Windy Arbour is highlighted as the area most in need of new children’s play facilities.

Only 12.6% of the total number of parks in DLR are in the Dundrum Area has , and combined with its high population density , this means that Parks space per 1000 of population in Dundrum electoral district is the lowest in the whole Borough, at just 0.95 hectares HA per 1000 people.

 We believe that DLR should rectify this  lack of parks and particularly play facilities  by  making the most of a very scarce resource, -in this case land – and two wonderful rivers – which have the potential to help regenerate the community around Windy Arbour by bringing  new business, jobs and  visitors to Windy Arbour, Clonskeagh and Milltown.

The  whole document can be downloaded at or you can read a copy in DLRs Dundrum office for te next week.

This Draft strategy outlines DLR's plans to improve poor provision in  areas like Windy Arbour by building new urban playgrounds and also by tentatively allocating funds for improving urban parkland.

The draft  identifies all the green spaces above 0.2 hectares within the Council’s five electoral areas and concludes that Parks and play space provision in the Dundrum area, where Windy Arbour is located, is the worst in the whole County.

 This compares badly with the best Parks provision in the County, which is in The Glencullen Area.  Glencullen electoral area includes Marlay Park and now has very good parks provision – at 6.8 HA per 1000 people, it is much higher than the average across the whole county.

Parks provision is worst in Dundrum, because the Dundrum  area has no Flagship or Regional parks  and only two Community parks at Ballawley and Loreto (Nutgrove), The Draft reports on some upgrading  which has taken place recently at  Loreto park with Residents Association’s support, which it says has resulted in improved use due to less anti social behaviour.

The Draft   says Play Facilities Need to be Improved in the Dundrum Area as a matter of priority.

As DLR acknowledges in Section 5.54: “ Dundrum electoral area has the least provision.”  This is despite residents here campaigning for many years for the replacement of children’s play facilities here.  One problem is that although there is adequate community green space, much of the green space in Windy Arbour, Milltown and Clonskeagh is not formally designated as  park land, and there areno park amenities like noticeboards, benches, picnic tables or bins  provided to encourage  formal use for play or exercise.

The survey places each of DLR's  30 parks into one of three groups:  Flagship; regional or Local. The Draft reports that Dundrum has eight parks sites, making up a total of 35.40 hectares or HA, but only one “Major local Park” of 2.4 HA). This seems to be Loreto Park, which is still rated as Below Average. 


The draft also rates the quality of DLR’s other green spaces,playgrounds and outdoor sports areas. It identifies 344 outdoor recreational facilities in the County’s five electoral areas, but notes that some are of poor quality or inaccessible by foot or public transport.

The report notes on Page 41 that most outdoor play facilities are in Stillorgan (23%), followedby Dun Laoghaire, which has 22%, and Glencullen (20%).  Dundrum and Blackrock with just 12.6% and 8.6%have the fewest play facilities in the County.

The Draft Document suggests that the Council should allocate around 300,000 euro to local park Upgrading.  If residents   support this request it could mean one or more new playgrounds being built in the area  overthe next four years and could result in significant improvements to local  green spaces, culminating in them being upgraded to parks. This  report suggests a phased approach is best.

I have suggested that a significant chunk of that  300,000 eurocould be invested in making a formal park  from the open land  along the Rivers Dodder and Slang, between Classon’ s bridge at the Dropping Well and The Packhorse Bridge at Milltown, near the Shia Mosque.

 The History Connection – How we can make the Most of what we have here now

 Urgent plans shouldbe made to rehabilitate the land along the banks of the Slang river, which hasbecome a dumping ground just before it flows into the Dodder near Patrick DoyleRoad. This land is overgrown, but a cleanup operation could begin immediately,with a longer term plan to build a flagship green playground on or close byit. 

This site is very close to Robert Emmet’s old home at Emmet House on the Dundrum Road.  This plan could be developed in partnership with the educational bodies that currentlyuse the playing fields there, and in partnership with local businesses,churches and other community bodies. 

This would go along with best practice as outlined in the document,which suggests making the most of natural features and building on local historical contexts.  Although thi is  suggested as a long term plan, it would also be possible to  progress toward it  rapidly, by providing  a small local playground, in this area, perhaps including a solar-powered fountain, to highlight the context of the river valleys and also including art works commemorating local patriot Robert Emmet, who grew up here and planned the 1803 Rebellion from Windy Arbour.

 Quick Wins to get local Support

DLR could remove and relocate the railings on Columbanus Green – add signage, drainage  and landscaping to create a sandpit, picnic area and toddlers playground with slide and swings

The railings which now enclose the  open land next to St Columbanus Road, near the nine arches and Milltown Luas Stop, are a disincentive to use and should be removed and re-used  elsewhere – perhaps they could enclose a formal play area with gates provided. Climbing plants could also be

trained along it to improve its visual aspect. 

Specifically, Table 5.13 on page 45 shows that the Dundrum area, which includes Windy Arbour and parts of Clonskeagh, Churchtownand Milltown in the North) has no regional play facility, playlot, or communityplayground.


Gap Analysis of play provision in Map 7

Section 5.57 on page 46 identifies under-provision of play facilities in Clonskeagh,particularly at  Farranboloey, Milltown and Windy Arbour, as well as in Dundrum at Taney and Sweetmount. 

The draft recognise that further work is needed  to plan and prioritise future play provision and it points out that at present teenagers are the group of children  most badly provided for throughout the County.

It advises that a Review of the Council’s current Play Policy, which was last done  in 2003, is due and that these electoral areas should be prioritised when future facilities are provided.  

This campaign believes  DLR should  look at providing  a good local playground to serve Clonskeagh,Milltown, Farranboley and Windy Arbour, which can be upgraded to become a regional or flagship playground later on, through the addition of a museum, waterpark and/or community centre.

Table 8.1 shows the capital investment programme  the Council is planning over the next four years to improve its parks and openspaces. Euro 240,000 has been allocated to urban playgrounds, with a further 300,000 allocated to local parkupgrading, while more than 8M Euro is planned for further spending on MarlayPark.  Surely it would be better to spenda little more of  of the 8M euro allocated to Marley on a new playground in Clonskeagh where densities are higher and the need is greater?

What do you think? This week is your last chance to tell DLR what you think about this  draft report and  for you to influence the allocation of resources, vis a vis priorities.  

We also have a new local councillor in Dundrum, who has replaced Labour's Aidan Culhane. She is a local music teacher who is keen to see local public spaces improved.  You can also email your comments on this issue directly to [email protected]

Section 8.4.1  commits the Council to working in partnership with local people and other organisations by engaging with Community Groups,volunteer and interest group to achieve the objectives of improving local greenspaces.

 The Windy Arbour Playground Campaign  now has  more than 25 active members and more than two hundred local residents and business people which support it. We are very keen to work with the Council’s Parks Department to build and maintain new local play facilities for the  children and teenagers of Milltown, Clonskeagh, Windy Arbour, Churchtown  and Dundrum.

We would like to suggest DLR begins rectifying the lack of play space in Clonskeagh and WindyArbour  by creating a small urban playground close to the Dodder and Slann River sites mentioned. DLR could then worktowards building an indoor community space  with Internet access which could to used forplay, indoor exercise, meetings and  training, later on, with  the option of subsequently adding toiletfacilities, or a museum focused on local history, arts spaces and a cafe lateron. The arts element is quite important and could include signposting, sculpture and a history trail.

A large Community building project like this could beundertaken  in partnership with the Waterboard and Dublin City Council as there is a significant  water recycling andCSO facility near the Dodder at Milltown, so it would be good to work with thewater company to ameliorate the odours produced by it, while also working onother land upgrade works, towards building a new Community Centre close toMilltown Luas, which should be linked to the shops in Windy Arbour, via a  Green path network. It would also be good tocreate a green Walking trail from the Dropping Well Park, which has a FamineHistory, to Robert Emmet’s Birthplace in Clonskeagh, via the new CommunityCentre and then on to the shops and business centre in Windy Arbour via a newGreen Link over the road SkyBridge to help people cross the Dundrum Road nearRobert Emmet’s Home.

 We would like to help formulate a new play policy linked to the Arts and to Business and biodiversity which centres on creating a new large park around the two Rivers.We note that DLR has already started a project to improve the banks of the SlannRiver where it flows through Ballinteer. In our view, it is equally important to renovate the banks of the SlannRiver which runs through Windy Arbour, which is now overgrown and dangerous toaccess.

The brownfield land behind Millmount Terrace and the Dundrum road, which backs on to  Green space at Patrick Doyle Road could easily become a wonderful site for a new sports and community centre with a playground  sited close by  or even at roof level ( if the building  was built below ground level).

 An imaginative architectural response to this site could provide a new community facility at the heart of a new flagship park. It is possible to work  gradually towards this goal by starting with a series of small achievable goals, which should begin with identifying two sites – one for a toddlers playground and one for junior and teenage children, which should be at the heart of the new  flagship local park for Dundrum which highlights the  wonderful natural heritage around Windy Arbour.

Shan Kelly

September 9 2011


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