It’s easy to make a difference
A Residents Association is an ideal vehicle through which to enhance the area in which you live, through participation in your Residents Association you too can have a positive impact on the local environment, and improve the quality of your surroundings – and it might take one hour per week!
This section hopes to be able to give practical advice on ways of tackling common problems experienced in Residential Areas. We also hope to be able to increase awareness of resources which are available to help Residents Associations come to grips with problems in their area, and to turn these problems into opportunities for community improvement.
Residents Associations are a group of people, living in a housing estate or apartment complex or in a particular catchment area who take on the task of representing their Estate, Area or Community to improve / enhance its living environment. An effective Residents group can also ensure that their area is effectively (and fairly) represented when dealing with the Local Council / Councillors, Statutory Bodies, and bodies such as An Garda Síochána.
Residents Association are an essential support network for those living in residential areas, their objectives could include:-
- To promote a sense of community and neighbourliness among residents of the area;
- To maintain open communal areas such as green areas, flower displays, trees & shrubs etc.;
- To promote public interest and participation in issues affecting the area;
- To provide a forum for open discussion of issues affecting the area;
- To raise awareness of issues affecting the community and determine a course of action to effectively address these issues;
- To promote the preservation of local facilities and take action to effect improvement of the residential area (where necessary with the approval & assistance of the Local Authority).
- To monitor issues and problems affecting the area, and where necessary bring these issues to the attention of the Local Authority or the Gardaí;
- To make representations in the interests of the members of the Association as a whole to all levels of government, other public authorities, organisations and persons whose decisions and actions may affect the area;
- To co-ordinate the activities of the Association with organisations having similar objectives;
- To promote cultural, educational and recreational activities for the residents of the area.
- The publication from time to time of a newsletter for purpose of informing members and residents generally of matters of common interest;
Insurance is very important and it is up to individual Residents Associations to ensure they have adequate and suitable insurance. While NOT wishing to recommend any insurance policies, we are aware of two insurance companies who provide insurance solutions for charitable, voluntary and community groups:- BHP Insurances & Willis Insurances, there may be more, please contact a licenced insurance broker in your locality for independent advice.
Some suggested Projects
Maintaining the Green Area:
The Green Area is generally overlooked by neighbouring houses and can often be the designated “safe play area” for the children on the estate.
Assuming you have a Green Area this is probably going to be the singularly most expensive project you will undertake. In addition it is a recurring task, and grass cutting will need to be addressed every year, if the green area is small and manageable the job of cutting the grass could be shared out among the residents, however if it is a large area a contractor will be required. About 15/16 cuts per year will be required to maintain a green area in good condition.
Remember that grass will probably have to be cut back from the top of kerbing by hand.
The Tidy Towns Association promotes the use of good quality semi-mature native trees in all Residential Estates; however choose trees which are suitable for roadside locations, otherwise in time your paths will be seriously damaged. A green area also looks well if trees are planted in selected areas, remember that the kids need a play area, so you don’t want a forest – leave sufficient space for football and other children’s games;
Please plan your tree planting project – and select a suitable sized tree for each location (remember trees can grow quite tall over many years), plant native species in the green area rather than “trophy trees”, plant trees such as oak, hawthorn, willow and birch, which attract a wide variety of insects, which in return will attract the native birds – DO NOT PLANT TREES TOO CLOSE TO ROADWAYS/PATHS/HOUSES;
Remember the main cause of damage to trees is not vandalism, but poor planting and lack of maintenance. It is important to plant trees in the autumn when the soil is still warm and the tree can make new root growth before the winter. Trees will require considerable watering during their first summer following planting, and it is also advisable to keep an area of approximately one metre diameter at the base of the tree clear of grass growth, and mulched;
Flowerbeds / Shrubberies:
Flowerbeds or shrubberies are very attractive, but can be time consuming. Plant for all-year-round colour; remember these areas will need weeding, pruning and the clearance of litter on an on-going basis. Annuals planted each year will bring a burst of colour, but please consider planting perineal plants – shrubs etc. which will give years of colour and at a much lower cost overall.
These are a necessity, and you will need volunteers to assist in this operation. Depending on the size of your estate and the number of volunteers this clean-up can take anything from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Areas to the back of estates can sometimes become dumping areas for cut grass and other materials, so check these areas and ensure they are included in your clean-up.
Clear away evidence of vandalism immediately, such as litter, graffiti and broken trees, as signs of vandalism seem to attract further attacks, as do areas that are poorly maintained which give the impression that no-one cares.
By their nature residential estates/streets can sometimes have litter control problems and this must be addressed by each individual estate/street in the town or village. Litter pollution is a problem for society at large, and a partnership approach is considered the most effective method of tackling the problem. The residents in your estate or on your street need to adopt or “take ownership” your residential area, and keep it litter free. If each resident simply kept the road frontage outside their house clean and weed free, it would improve the appearance of your residential area. Five minutes a day would keep your road frontage clean and tidy.
Approaches to the Estate / Public walls:
Boundary walls & fences on the approaches to your Residential Area are also very important so don’t forget the area just outside your residential area, the approaches to your estate need to be nicely maintained, otherwise they will take from the work you are doing within the residential area.
Road boundary walls will probably need to be painted or cleaned down from time to time, as will timber fencing.
External facing walls within the estate may also become the “responsibility” of the Residents Association, and should be maintained where possible.
Erect entrance name signs and directional signage in the estate, ensuring the signs are painted and maintained in a clean and neat condition, however do not allow excessive signage as it leads to a cluttered appearance, discourage signage on footpaths which will impede the less-abled in your community. Signage should be bi-lingual in both English and Irish.
Remember permission from the County Council will be required prior to erecting signage in your estate, so contact your Local Councillor for advice or check out Kildare County Council Signage Policy
Individual Houses & Gardens:
Most housing estates are generally in a good state of repair, well maintained private gardens also add to creating a positive image for the area, and enhance the appearance nearby public spaces. Consider developing a colour scheme for the estate/street that complements the character of the area. Simple landscaping at individual houses can often be very effective if proper (suitable) trees and shrubs are planted – try to avoid Leylandii as hedging.
All residents could enhance the appearance of their residential area though the tasteful presentation of front gardens. Simple improvements usually include on-going trimming of hedges, repairs to walls and fences, removing weeds from the base of walls, keeping up with some painting etc. Gable-end walls and chimneys though sometimes difficult to paint should be painted when the rest of the house is being painted.
Uncared for Buildings:
Dilapidated (or abandoned) buildings and sheds are occasionally a problem in residential areas, you may need to contact the owner – possibly your neighbour – to effect a clean-up, a simple coat of paint applied every two or three years can work wonders. However this can be a sensitive issue for some, so be tactful;
From time to time Residents Associations may need to request a meeting with Council Officials or Councillors to discuss or resolve issues which they may have regarding their Estates. These may be issues such as planning, grass cutting (in some estates), tree planting or maintenance, issues regarding services – lighting, sewerage, road drainage etc. Some County Councils also provide grants to Residents Associations.
The County Council and Councillors are there to advise and assist you; therefore it is imperative that you introduce yourselves to the local Councillors. For Further information on who are your local Councillors – in this area Kildare / Newbridge Municipal District – click on the link below:
Sustainable Waste & Resource Management
Residents Associations can also do their bit in the management and elimination of waste.
• Use mowers / contractors who will mulch the grass clippings;
• Recycle green waste/trimmings in your brown (organic waste) bins;
• Is there scope for a composting area in your estate?
• Is there scope for bird-nesting boxes, bat boxes?
• Ensure all glass, cans, paper etc. collected in clean-ups is recycled;
• Conserve water, use rainwater collected in water butts to water shrubberies / flowerbeds;