Green Party representative for Dublin Fingal Joe O’Brien has called on Fingal County Council to develop a children’s play strategy for the county. Mr. O’Brien explained the reasoning for his call:
Last year in response to queries from communities in Fingal for new playgrounds for their children I conducted some research on how Fingal performs nationally in terms of its number of playgrounds in the context of the very young population of the county. The county does not compare favourably in the national context. Thirty-nine playgrounds for a 0-4 population of 25,000 children is not a favourable ratio in the national context, in fact we are 26th out of 31 local authorities. They are many areas in the county were children are simply not within walking distance of a playground and this is not an acceptable situation.
The relatively fast pace of population growth in Fingal has no doubt been a factor here but the development of play spaces should happen in tandem with development of housing. This has not happened in many cases in Fingal, particularly during the housing boom. I understand that it is Fingal County Council policy that all residential schemes in excess of 50 units should incorporate playground facilities which should be provided at a rate of 4 sq m per residential unit. I have asked the Chief Executive to clarify that this policy has been adhered to in Fingal’s new housing developments under Rebuilding Ireland.
The rate of playgrounds to children in the population is just one aspect of how the Council can support and facilitate play, which is crucial to the development of our children and the maintenance and improvement of their mental and physical health. The development of open public spaces, parks, sports facilities, greenways and the accessibility of the significant natural resources in Fingal are also important.
It is notable that play is not currently addressed in the Fingal Local Economic and Community Plan. I have also asked that the Council initiates a process of developing a Play Strategy for the county. This should be done in consultation with children. This is particularly important in the context of the planned expansion of housing in Fingal in the coming years which will no doubt see more young children in the county
It shouldn’t be let to communities to lobby for playgrounds in their area it should be an integral part of every residential development. Opportunities for outdoor play are crucial to the development of our children but also for the maintenance and improvement of their mental and physical health.
See below table for ratio of playgrounds per 0-4 year olds based on 2016 Census for each Local Authority in Ireland