September 2017


This event might be of interest to some:

We’d love for you to join us on October 17th at Point Village for Design meets Play – an immersive conference that at the intersection of planning, architecture, children’s rights, sustainability, design and more.

Join international thought leaders, local experts,and a diverse mix of attendees of all ages and perspectives to discuss the serious business of play. Together, we will merge theory and practice – as the ideas developed will feed into the design and implementation of playful interventions in Dublin in Spring 2018.

A bit more about A Playful City

Design Meets Play is part of A Playful City, an initiative designed and produced by Connect the Dots & Upon a Tree, supported by KLM along with partners Science Gallery, UCD – Geography Department, Sean Harrington Architects, Leave No Trace, Waterways Ireland, UNICEF, Early Childhood Ireland, Early Learning Initiative (National College Ireland), GoCar, Henry J Lyons Architects, Recreate, Outsider Magazine, Totally Dublin, StreetFeast, Joined Up, and Institute of Designers Ireland.

Top 5 reasons to come –

1. The People

Our aim at A Playful City is for a diverse group of stakeholders to converge and help make our vision a reality within Dublin. Attending the Design meets Play conference means you will have the opportunity to not only meet, but to meaningfully engage with and learn from stakeholders never all in the same room before – hailing from diverse sectors spanning design to academia to sustainability to architecture to urban planning to children’s rights, and more.

2.  The Conversation

We have 20 speakers of all ages and from all over the world discussing their unique views on the world of play, all of which are authorities in their own field. Discussions will cover a host of topics ranging from; children in the city; play and psychology; engagement, architecture, design and the right to play to name just a few of the conversations that will take place on the day.

Speaker highlights include:

  • Turner Prize Winner, Assemble Collective (Amica Dall)

  • President of European Network of Child-Friendly Cities (Adrian Voce)

  • Children’s Rights Advocate and Researcher (Jackie Bourke)

  • Director of Play Scotland (Marguerite Hunter Blair)

  • Head of Interventions of Superuse Studios in the Netherlands (Jos de Krieger)

  • Baltic Street Adventure Playground (Robert Kennedy)

  • Professor of Land Use Planning and Urban Studies (Marketta Kyatta)

  • UNICEF youth representative (Diana Oprea)

3. The Experience

Unlike most conferences where audiences are passive observers, the Design meets Play experience will be one of interaction. It will be an adventure, with audience participation throughout, ranging from questions to bright ideas, a host workshops, city walks and interactive panels. We want to ignite those brain receptors and get our audience learning, understanding and creating playfully.

4. The Space

On the day we will apply our vision of playful city  to the Point Village. It will be transformed into a spontaneous and vibrant space – its curious corners scenes of inspiration.  This alternative conference experience with its popcorn drain pipes and candyfloss clouds will help you to unlock your inner child and imagine the city differently.

5. The Output

The Design meets Play conference will also differ to other conferences as the end of the day is merely just the beginning. With your help we will have a people-led, bottom-up vision to make Dublin more playful. We will take the learnings shared during the day to ‘hack’ play and develop and implement prototypes for temporary interventions in proposed sites in Dublin with the potential to scale.

Your next steps?

  • Register here to play your part in creating a more playful, inclusive, and child-friendly Dublin! The first 100 people to register will get a playful surprise on the day. Do email us if you’re interested in a group rate.

  • Please share this with your networks. We’d particularly love if you could share this with other colleagues, relevant departments, and ystudents. If you have a newsletter, we’d be really grateful if you could share it there as well.

  • Get out and play! How did you used to play? How about now? What kind of play would you like to see in Dublin? Share your ideas on our Twitter @aplayfulcity, our Facebook (A Playful City), and our instagram!

 

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This event might be of interest to some:

The primary aim of this conference is to highlight and seek solutions to the national housing and homelessness crisis as it relates to availability and affordability of housing as it impacts on South Dublin County. In doing so we hope to provide clarity with regard to the existing housing context, identify barriers to the resolution of the housing crisis, both at a policy and implementation level, and make policy and implementation recommendations that will enable central and local government to deliver its housing targets. The conference will also act to strengthen the capacity of the SDCPPN to contribute to housing strategy at local government level. A number of housing experts will provide the context of the national and local housing policy and implementation issues, and offer solutions to the crisis. We will hold parallel workshops aimed at offering the space for individuals to express their solutions as the SDCPPN develop a position on housing which can be referenced in the relevant arenas within South Dublin County Council.

09:30am – Registration and Refreshments

10:00am – Chair Anna Lee – Welcome note

10:05am – Aiden Lloyd – setting the context

10:30am – Simon Brooke – National Housing Policy

11:00am – South Dublin County Council – Strategy to deliver social housing in South Dublin, including challenges and constraints

11:30am – Orla Hegarty – Solutions to Affordability

12:00pm – The workshops

    • Social housing
    • Traveller accommodation
    • Disability and Housing Needs
    • Homelessness
13:00pm – Lunch
13:45pm – Feedback from workshops by Siobhan Lynam

14:30pm – Rory Hearne – Housing Approaches and Rebuilding Ireland

15:00pm – Panel discussion with Simon Brooke, Orla Hegarty, Rory Hearne with Q&A

15:30pm – Final comments and closing

In the last couple of days I’ve been asked to comment on two issues around property data, both relating to vacancy (though we could easily have a similar discussion with regards to housing completions, homelessness, etc).  The first relates to housing vacancy and a report by Fingal County Council that contends that the vacancy levels in the local authority have been ‘grossly overstated’. The second about commercial vacancy and present rates. In both cases it’s difficult to provide strong answers because systematic data collection with respect to both is problematic and the state does not provide official data on either, except on housing vacancy every five years through the census which is a sub-optimal timeframe to be working from.

With respect to housing vacancy. I can’t find the report or press release from Fingal CC, but a story in the Irish Times reports that they believe vacancy levels are well below those reported in the census. It’s difficult to assess fully whether that’s the case without seeing the full methodology or data. What is reported in the IT is:

“The council initially conducted a desktop exercise on the 3,000 supposedly vacant properties. When commercial properties, as well as those in construction or in the planning process, were eliminated the figure fell to 361 properties. ”  They then visited 74 of the 361 homes to check on occupancy, though it’s not stated how those 74 were sampled.

Of those 74 visited, they discovered that only 13 were actually vacant. In other words, rather than having a vacancy rate of 5% (as reported in the 2016 census – 4,944 vacant units + 289 holiday homes), they have a rate of about 1% – far below what might be an expected base vacancy level of 6% (there are always some units vacant due to selling, gaps between renting, working temporarily elsewhere, people in healthcare, etc.). I have no doubt in the 18 months since the census in April 2016 properties that were vacant will have been occupied, however it seems unlikely that vacancy is so far below base vacancy, which is what the IT piece seems to be suggesting.

In terms of method it is unlikely that the CSO shared the individual addresses of vacant properties as identified in the census with Fingal. But if they were working from census data then it does not include commercial properties, nor properties under-construction, or in the planning process, or derelict. So removing those properties from census counts would make no sense – they were never counted by the CSO. Indeed, in a rebuttal story in the Irish Times, the CSO stand over their data and method – which is to send enumerators to every property in the country, to visit upwards of ten times if they fail to get an answer, and to talk to neighbours to try and ascertain the use status. I’m assuming that Fingal got their data instead from Geodirectory who source the information on occupancy from postal workers delivering or not mail. How accurate those data are I’m not sure and presumably the company would stand over their fidelity.

Regardless of the method, there is clearly a large discrepancy between what Fingal CC are finding on the ground in their small sample and what the census enumerators found 18 months ago, and presumably what An Post workers are finding. That discrepancy suggests we need a much more systematic and timely way of generating data on housing vacancy.  The government have set up a crowdsourcing means to generate vacancy information – vacanthomes.ie – where members of the public can log homes that they think are vacant, which can then be checked by local authority staff. There are well known problems with crowdsourcing such information, including coverage, representativeness and keeping the data up-to-date, and these data certainly could not be used as official statistics. Much more realistic would be a quarterly vacancy survey (much like the quarterly household survey) – probably carried out by the CSO who have no vested interest in local housing/planning data.

In terms of commercial vacancy, the state produces no statistics on the rates of vacancy for offices, retail units or industrial sites. It is a massive hole in our knowledge of the property sector. The only data that are produced are those by Geodirectory (which are limited in detail) or the property sector itself (hardly an unvested party, and the data are a product and can disappear from websites or go behind paywalls, and lack spatial granularity – usually just Dublin/rest of country or regions). In relation to commercial properties there is also a need to understand their characteristics, such as type, spec, condition, location, etc. as well as the size of space vacant, not just how many units. For example, imagine that there are ten units on a high street.  Nine of them are 1000 sqm in size and one is 5000 sqm.  If the larger unit is vacant then the vacancy rate per unit is 10 percent. However, the vacancy rate by floor area is 35 percent.  In other words, one cannot simply look at the absolute number of vacant units, rather we also need to consider the type and size of the units that are vacant. Trying to prepare local and county development plans with a fuzzy knowledge of existing development is a sub-optimal way of conducting planning and can lead to oversupply and property crashes (as per the last 20 years). Like housing, we therefore need good, reliable, timely data to understand the commercial property sector and we need the state to produce them.

In my view, there needs to be a branch-and-root review of property data in Ireland. This needs to start with asking the question: what data do we need to generate to best understand planning, housing, commercial property, infrastructure need, etc? Then to discover where the gaps are and to review the veracity and fidelity and fit-for-purpose of existing data generation and to fix as necessary. This includes assessing whether the data are being generated by the most appropriate generator. We then need to put in place the processes to produce those data.

With good quality data that people trust we might avoid different agencies producing wildly varying estimates of some element of housing or commercial property, such as vacancy rates, and we would greatly aid our planning and economic development. However, if we carry on as we are, we’re going to continue to fly half-blind and only have a partial or flawed understanding of present conditions and we are going to replicate mistakes of the past.

Rob Kitchin