aking sense of the ever-growing planning frenzy that has descended upon Greystones, Delgany and beyond over the past few years isn’t easy.
On the one hand, absolutely, people need houses; on the other, Wicklow County Council have come to rely very heavily on this one small patch when it comes to filling their piggybank each year.
Is there any corner of Greystones or Delgany that isn’t being built upon – or being readied to build upon – right now? And our cause hasn’t been helped by WCC management who have long looked upon Greystones as the spoilt, red-haired stepson.
Glenheron & Hawkins
It’s something that has seen developers such as Cairn Homes and that Rohan chap flooding An Bord Pleanala with applications, joining the Strategic Housing Development plans totalling almost 15,000 houses that were lodged in the first two weeks of April alone. The fast-track, fast-buck SHD process comes to a merciful end on Tuesday.
That Greystones could easily be rebranded as a city within the next decade might hit a nerve with those who still like to refer to our fast-growing town as a village.
Still, as each day brings a new site clearance or a new notice for yet another bespoke estate planning application, it’s interesting to look over a recent survey taken by the Greystones Municipal District Office. The idea being to recognise the haves and have-nots of Greystones, Delgany, Kilcoole and beyond, and whip out the latter list whenever any big moneybags comes waltzing through the door offering some glittering tit for some concrete tat.
In the introduction to the study findings, the creators outline the background and aims as:
Background Need to assess the current state of recreation in the district and identify future needs and priority areas. To set a point of reference that will inform future planning, resource allocations and partnership discussions. In this study, ‘Recreation’ means a variety of pursuits and the experience that results from freely chosen participation in physical, social, intellectual, creative and spiritual pursuits that enhance individual and community wellbeing.
Aims of the study To analyse the existing recreation, leisure and sports facilities in the area. Facilitate future strategic direction to support the appropriate provision of recreation, leisure and sports facilities. To provide a framework that will allow stakeholders to work together to match facilities with a growing population. That management practices and the quality of facilities will best serve everyone in the community. That the location of future facilities will be informed and identified through consideration of the existing gaps in provision and the projected population growth. To determine recreational priorities for the district and lead to the development of equitable, accessible sport and recreational opportunities for all. Improve the health, wellbeing and overall quality of those who live and work in the district as well as those who visit.
The surveys were conducted through ‘in-depth questionnaires’ circulated online via Survey Monkey, as well as offline with local residents plus sports and community organisations.
And those all-important findings are:
Greystones Urban Settlement has 50% of the population of the Greystones Municipal District but almost two thirds of the recreational and sporting facilities. Delgany has 20% of the population, but less than 3% of facilities. Feedback from Kilcoole, Newcastle and Newtown show dissatisfaction with the number of facilities but they are consistent with the population in these settlements.
GMD one of the fastest growing MDs in the country where population has grown by almost 49% from 2002 to 2016. Kilcoole grew by 163.9% in same period!! High youth dependency in the Greystones Municipal District at 38.9% Labour force participation is high at 62.8% Unemployment low at 8.2% Northern section of the Municipal District more affluent than the southern section.
Despite the Municipal District being largely urbanised, the level of commuting on public transport is low, with a considerable reliance on cars for mobility. The main reason for visiting the area is shopping (88.8%). Social recreation (84.8%), walking/window shopping (78.5%) with sports and recreation the fourth most popular reason at 70%.
The vast majority (93%) have taken part in a sporting/recreational facility. 82.5% participate at least once a week, 52% a few times a week, and 12% participate daily. Most popular outdoor activities are walking/jogging (75.5%), swimming (57.65), playground (48.2%), hiking (39.1%) and cycling (34.4%). Soccer is at 23.7% and GAA is at 22.9%. Gardening is at 22.6%.
Most popular indoor activity is swimming at 64.5%, followed by library at 44.8% and gym training at 41.7%. Yoga/Pilates is at 25.9% and gymnastics at 12.7%, while dancing is over 10%.
Why do people take part? • Health 92.1% • Meet new people 48.7% • Relaxation 81.3% • improve skills 33.3% • Enjoy nature 70.3% • Challenge 25.9% • Fun 69.0% • Help community 24.1% • Family time 66.7% • Competition 18.2%
Where do people use facilities? Greystones 86.2% Kilcoole 19.6% Newtown 6.8% Newcastle 3.8%
Travel to participate… Car/van 85.4% Walk 50.4% Bicycle 26.6% Car passenger 15.8% Public Transport 5.5%
Barriers to Participation Lack of facilities 53.5% Cost 35.1% Lack of awareness of what’s available 25.8% Transportation 22.7% Inconvenient times 17.6% Lack of time 15.8% Age/health issues 6.72% Lack of interest 2.33%
Main Recommendations Increase the number of recreational and sporting facilities and activities in the district with particular emphasis outside of Greystones. Increase the capacity of existing facilities as many are struggling to cope with increased population and usage. Develop a new large open park—Charlesland golf course suggested by many respondents. Promote the existing wide variety and high standard of existing facilities. Increase networking and synergies between existing facilities. Improve the maintenance of existing facilities. Develop a co-ordinated strategy for the Shoreline centres. Optimise the existing natural environment and scenic locations for greater outdoor recreational options. Focus on age-related facilities, especially young adults/teenagers/children as gaps are evident. This in turn will negate anti-social behaviour propensity for crime, drug and alcohol misuse and poor mental health. Reduce the end user cost through cost saving measures. Improve the infrastructure including public transport and accessibility issues.
Consider other parts of the Municipal District, apart from Greystones – Kilcoole, Delgany, Northside Greystones, Newcastle, Newtown, Kilpedder.
Continually assess the capacity for future demand and link the provision of services more robustly to planning policy and grants of planning permission.
Final Comments Good examples and evidence of good community development and infrastructure in parts of the district, but the consultants identified a certain degree of expectation that leisure and community infrastructure provision was a role for the Council and other state bodies. Work needs to be undertaken to enable community based projects to be developed which could be managed by the local community. This would involve capacity building and supports to encourage local ownership of community and sports infrastructure. Access to suitable and affordable sites for such facilities would have to be addressed.
So, this is Greystones, early 2022. Not sure how many people took part (given how jaded everyone around here is these days, probably somewhere between 7 and 11), but there’s a whole banquet for thought here.
And a list of demands for any of those any of those developers keen to come bearing gifts for the golden goose.
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