14 - Urban Design, Placemaking & Regeneration
Chapter 14 - Urban Design, Placemaking & Regeneration
Kildare is becoming an increasingly urbanised county, a trend that is anticipated to continue over the coming decades and one which the plan must address in order to focus on the needs of current and future residents of the county. As such, its network of settlements, its towns and villages, are the focus of ongoing growth and expansion.
It is recognised that settlements need to successfully accommodate and integrate new development whilst also maintaining and enhancing the character and viability of their historic centres. This is considered to be a critical element central to the retention of their overall identity, and key to providing both new and existing communities with ‘a sense of place’ and belonging.
Urban design is the art of creating and shaping built environments. It involves the arrangement and design of buildings, public spaces, transport systems, and social infrastructure. It is both a process and an outcome of creating communities in which people live, connect with each other, and engage with the physical place around them.
Placemaking is a particular aspect of urban design which focuses on how public spaces can best be designed and managed in order to enhance the connections between people and these places. The concept of placemaking is very much people-centred and looks to the needs, aspirations and desires of the community.
‘Healthy placemaking’, which is cited by the RSES as a ‘growth enabler’ for the region, seeks to improve the design and functionality of settlements so that healthy activities and experiences are integral to people’s everyday lives. In practical terms, this means promoting and implementing active travel and neighbourhood design policies that encourage physical activity, increase opportunities for social interaction and strengthen mental health, thereby enhancing overall quality of life and wellbeing
Town centres are considered to have a critical role in the realisation of compact growth and low carbon development in the county, where historic cores have the capacity to accommodate substantial quantities of new homes either by the utilisation of living opportunities within existing vacant buildings or through brownfield/backland development. The Programme for Government (2020) recognised the need for and committed to, the development of a strategic approach to town centre regeneration that would maximise the impact of the Government’s considerable investment in urban regeneration. On foot of this, ‘Town Centre First – A Policy Approach for Irish Towns’ was published in February 2022, which seeks to take an overarching and coordinated approach to town centre regeneration.