The Heritage Council’s award winning Community-led Village Design Statement [VDS] programme is a collaborative and participative approach to village planning and design that gives local communities – working in partnership with local authorities and statutory agencies – a real voice in deciding how their villages are planned and shaped for the future.
Aims and Objectives
Our small towns and villages have a significant sense of regional, and sometimes very local character based on the natural, built and cultural heritage.
During the ‘Celtic Tiger’ years however, Irish small towns and villages experienced enormous change due to new housing developments in some areas and outward population migration in others. These changes have resulted in a profound impact on all aspects of local heritage.
In response, the Heritage Council introduced the Village Design Statement Programme to raise public awareness of heritage assets in particular and to provide design guidelines to enhance and protect local distinctiveness and local heritage features.
What is a Village Design Statement?
A Community-led Village Design Statement document or report is compiled by members of a local community in collaboration with the local authority and other stakeholders and typically sets out the following:
(i) The community’s shared environmental, cultural and socio-economic vision for their village for the next 15-20 years.
(ii) Agreed design principles that relate specifically to the village. These are to be used by the local community, the local authority and other stakeholders to guide in-fill or new local development in order to ensure that the existing character and distinctiveness identified through the VDS process is conserved, celebrated and enhanced.
(iii) An agreed VDS action plan setting out specific and phased projects that should be delivered by the local community and its partners to ensure the effective planning, management and enhancement of its unique features.
The Community-Led Village Design Statement Toolkit is a step-by-step guide to undertaking a Community-led VDS. It was launched by The Heritage Council in 2012 (in accordance with the UNECE Aarhus Convention and the European Landscape Convention).
While this toolkit specifically helps communities establish project management structures for their local VDS project, the information and guidance provided can be used as a template for community groups who are considering undertaking other sustainable, community-led heritage and planning projects.