Built Environment and Streetscape
An Timpeallacht Thógtha agus Sráid-dreacha
In this Category The Tidy Towns Adjudicator can award 50 Marks
Buildings: Conservation and presentation of heritage buildings and quality of shop-fronts: design, sustainability and suitability of new structures to their location and environment; treatment of derelict sites and unoccupied buildings; design and suitability of civic amenity buildings.
Public Spaces: Squares, parks, streetscape, paving, landscaping and street furniture; street lighting, building facade lighting, appropriately designed signage relating to streets and place nameplates, parking locations, historical trails, walkways and access points to local amenities and facilities, way-finding and the general use of the Irish language; sustainability and access for everyone.
In order to best protect our natural environment, local government bodies are obliged to prepare a County Development Plan, and in the case of towns like Newbridge where a Local Area Plan has been adopted. A Local Area Plan is designed to ensure that well planned developments in towns, cities and urban locations can be regulated to ultimately reduce and minimise the cumulative impact of human activity on the natural environment.
The stated aim of the Droichead Nua (Newbridge) Local Area Plan 2013-2019 is:
“To build on the strengths of Newbridge and to provide a focused approach to planning for future development in a coherent sustainable and spatial fashion. The Plan aims to achieve a more consolidated urban form that facilitates a sustainable economic base and creates sustainable and integrated communities while balancing future development with the conservation and enhancement of the town’s natural and built environment”. Newbridge LAP – Part A Introduction and Context – Page 1
The emphasis is not on what is new or just planning for future development, but is also on retaining and maintaining what was good development from the past (historic buildings, streetscapes) and ensuring that we plan well for the future.
The term built environment describes the artificial, man-made structures in which we live, work and recreate in – including any artificial structure (houses, factories, shopping centres, airports, buildings, roads, pavements etc.). Our built environment is changing continuously and over time has evolved from the earliest people living in huts and small communities, to today’s large urban centres in which we now live.
While change in the built environment is necessary for modern day living, over recent years the quantity of land covered artificial surfaces and buildings has increased at a phenomenal rate, while some of these developments are necessary and welcome, some will have a detrimental effect on our natural environment.
Nationally some Historic Buildings are in the care of the Irish Heritage Trust, and while some buildings of historic interest are in public ownership (such as the Town Hall / Garrison Church in Newbridge), many historic buildings and structures are in private ownership. There is however a comprehensive list identifying buildings of architectural importance to Irish heritage, and this is published on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH) website, which contains details of many buildings and street features in Newbridge, it’s well worth a visit to their site to check which buildings and street features you pass by daily in Newbridge are of significant local, regional or national importance.
Examples of negative issues affecting the sense of place can be derelict sites, poor building maintenance, insensitive or poorly planned structures, abandoned or “boarded up” shop fronts, unsympathetic signage, overhead wiring, poorly maintained or unsuitable street furniture.
Newbridge has its unique history and character, and these along with the streetscape, condition of buildings and the attitude of the local population is what gives an area a “sense of place”, and a distinctive identity.
Public Spaces are social spaces, generally in public ownership and open to the public and accessible to the public generally, in addition to parks; public open spaces generally include roads, pavements, residential green spaces, squares, public buildings and libraries etc. Privately owned buildings such as shopping centres, sports complexes while not owned by the local authority also provide the opportunity for “social spaces”, and are an essential part of the local environment in Newbridge.
Public spaces are often shared spaces, where vehicular traffic, pedestrians, cyclists, street furniture are required to share the public realm.
Having a sense of place can often stem from the built environment (which itself benefits from good local authority planning), and in no small way can depend on:-
- Availability and condition of parks / amenity / public open spaces / children’s play areas;
- Availability / suitability of public or market squares;
- Attractive / well landscaped streetscape;
- Appropriately designed / functional street furniture;
- Convenient (uncluttered) walkways and access points to local amenities and facilities;
- Functional well maintained road surfaces, paving, street lighting and building facade lighting;
- Well maintained buildings – both modern and historic – the architectural quality of the buildings;
- Appropriately designed signage relating to streets and place nameplates;
- Suitable / accessible parking locations;
- Signed / mapped historical and arts trails;
- General use of the Irish language on signage, shopfronts, within the community etc.;
- Sustainability and access for everyone;