The Consultation Process — Mount Pleasant
Following this initial consultation, RMDS approached TTT, who had worked previously with RMDS in a voluntary capacity and who have previously worked with DCC. rMDS explained the consultation process to date. TTT agreed to work for a reduced fee given the nature of the project. TTT agreed to draw up a sketch design to facilitate further discussion with the local residents and the school community.
A meeting, attended by the local residents, the school Board and DCC (Leo Fitzpatrick and Michael Noonan) took place on 15th April in the school. The purpose of the meeting was to present draft proposals for discussion following the consultation process. There was a broad welcome for the overall plan.
The following points were noted in the discussion;
- The Patron of the school was thanked for funding this part of the project.
- There was discussion regarding the proposed ‘shelter’ – its position and the potential to give rise to anti social behaviour.
- It was agreed that the existing stone wall part of the railings (on the Ranelagh Rd side) was a suitable place for an inscription of the name of the park and perhaps a heritage information board on the inside.
- It was agreed that the Irish Georgian Society be contacted to see their views on the proposal. Materials used in the paths and the edgings should reflect this heritage. Signage, seating and planting should also reflect the heritage of the park.
- Sustainability and biodiversity as well as the seasonality and complimentarity of the proposed planting scheme should be considered.
- It was agreed that the proposals would be progressed in stages – the basic infrastructure, including the planting and paths, forming part of phase one and the repair and restoration of the railings and the wall and gates, phase two.
- The issue of drainage was also discussed. The proposals are based on working within the constraints of the existing planting and improving them by using a thick layer of bark mulch for example and tough ground cover in some areas.
It was agreed:
- JW to seek the approval of the Patron of the school to fund the further development of the plan,
- The IGS be contacted as part of the development of the proposal (TTT).
- MN to discuss with DCC the proposed plans and to present the next phase to the DCC.
- MN to support the school to source potential funding for the project from various available grant schemes.
Meeting with Irish Georgian Society 5th May
TTT reported on a very positive meeting with John Aldie, Irish Georgian Society on 5th May . The IGS were happy to be kept updated regarding developments and welcomed the improvements planned for the park. They noted that generally the idea in Georgian parks was to introduce a ‘botanical’ element and introduce new species, rather than native species.
A subsequent meeting took place on 6th May 2014 again representing of the residents and the school and DCC (Michael Noonan). The purpose of this meeting was to present revised proposals for the development of the park and to report on the meeting with the Irish Georgian Society. TTT then presented the revised plan. The following points were noted:
- The path of the Swan River was marked in the path.
- The remaining stone wall on the Ranelagh Rd side of the park will contain the name of the park on the outside and some information about the history and heritage of the park on the inner wall, in addition to the usual parks signage in a new position inside the existing gate.
- There was detailed discussion regarding the proposed bespoke ‘forts’, in particular how best to achieve the balance between making such structures available in public spaces and having them properly used.
- TTT would rework the design to incorporate some of the concerns. It was noted that they could be removed if they became a source of concern.
- It was noted that the natural play elements proposed contrast well with the planned provision of a more traditional ‘ playground ‘ in Ranelagh Gardens.
A costing of the project was presented. The possibility of increased maintenance for this park was noted. While there are constraints on staff in DCC, it may be possible to work out a shared community/school/DCC schedule of maintenance to ensure consistency and continuity.
A further meeting was held in the school on 15th May. The purpose of the meeting was to present the latest revised proposals for the development of the park to Lesley Moore, City Parks Superintendent.
The following proposals in the plan were noted and discussed:
- The broad consultation process which has been a feature of this process to date was welcomed. The plan itself was also welcomed as a good response to the site and to the brief. It was recommended that the committee make a presentation to the July meeting of the area committee.
- There was a detailed discussion of the existing brick wall separating the tennis club from the park. The possibility of renovating it or removing sections of it in order to respect more fully the heritage and integrity of the park was discussed. It was agreed to discuss with the tennis club. It was also agreed that this would form part of the longer term plan for the park.
- The important historical context of the park was discussed and the possible need to have a further conservation report was noted.
- Following this meeting and in advance of the local elections on 23rd May, we circulated all the candidates in the three local wards with the background to the project and the sketch plans by letter on 19th May.
- We circulated all 175 families in the school with a copy of the plan and asked them to raise this plan with candidates and neighbours. We invited them to email RMDS with any comments or suggestions
- The Mountpleasant Square Residents Association is conducting a consultation with their members at present. There were some further suggestions regarding the structure of the forts and the wall. Otherwise the residents thought the plans were ‘terrific and very professionally presented’.
We also contacted the residents of Oxford Road and Swan Grove and asked them to reply to the school email with any concerns.
- We have also undertaken a further process of consultation with the children on the design of the ‘forts’ that were an important part of their response to the initial consultation process. These are presently on display in the school. By including the children in its development we are encouraging them to take a responsible attitude to their local environment.
- The school has written to the Mountpleasant Lawn Tennis Club, a private facility that owns the reminder of the square to seek their support for the project and consult and share ideas with them in particular around the concrete boundary wall that divides the park from the tennis club. Their next management meeting is scheduled for 16 June, where our correspondence will be discussed.