Connect, Collaborate, Create; Co-Designing Healthier Communities, A Healthy Ireland Stakeholder Forum on the Built Environment, was held on November 21st 2018, in the National Indoor Arena. The Forum was managed by the Departments of Health, Transport Tourism and Sport (DTTAS, now DTCAGSM) and Housing Planning and Local Government (now DHLGH) and Sport Ireland.
Both the National Physical Activity Plan Implementation Group (NPAP IG) and the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group (OPIOG) were represented at the Forum, which brought together those with responsibility for planning and developing public spaces with those who have expertise regarding the impacts of the built and natural environments on health and well-being, sport and physical activity, obesity and mental health, with the objective of examining how our physical environment can impact on health and well-being.
Progress has been made in a variety of different areas since the Forum was held, as detailed below, and it is envisaged that this progress will continue.
- A number of meetings, involving representatives of DHealth, DTTAS and DHPLG were held, following the Forum in 2018, to discuss the outcomes and the best ways of progressing these.
- The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets, originally published in 2013, was updated in 2019, accompanied by additional advice and a new website, www.dmurs.ie
- Implementation of the objectives of the NPF is supported by a €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development fund (URDF) in the period to 2027. There were 87 successful applications supported in Round 1 of the Fund.
- The Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways was launched in 2018, with work advancing on a number of greenway projects since then
- An inter-Departmental Advisory Group, Town Centre First, was established by DHLGH in late 2020; the NPAP Implementation Group is represented by the Department of Health co-Chair.
- The Department of Rural and Community Development approved funding of €10.2 million for 153 projects under the 2019 Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme towards the development of trails, walkways, cycleways, greenways, blueways and mountain access routes.
- Sport Ireland supported the development of Blueways (recreation on or near water) in RoI and NI, through the Blueway Partnership in 2019
- Sport Ireland carried out 247 walking and cycling trail assessments and inspections in 2019, and also delivered 7 training courses aimed at supporting the development of walking and cycling infrastructure countrywide;
- Sport Ireland published a number of guidelines in 2019, including the Great Outdoors – An Accessibility Guideline for Outdoor Areas in collaboration with the Irish Wheelchair Association and CARA, and the revised and updated Criteria for Walking Trail Development in Ireland in 2019.
Further progress in this area will be pursued in line with the commitments in the Programme for Government, and through the reviews of the National Physical Activity Plan and the Obesity Policy and Action Plan, both of which are scheduled for 2021.