Rush selected for EU URBACT programme’s National Practice Transfer Initiative

Rush has been selected to take part in the Irish National Practice Transfer Initiative (NPTI), which is funded by the EU URBACT Programme, and sees URBACT Transfer Networks sharing good practice in sustainable urban development between cities and towns.

Rush is one of seven towns selected to receive the transfer of good practices which were learned by the lead city of Cork on the EU URBACT Playful Paradigm network to develop play and placemaking actions.

This URBACT Transfer Initiative offers the opportunity through meetings, forums, observations, trial and error to develop a playful culture in towns and cities across Ireland that can be adapted, changed and used to inform and influence locally relevant aspects, both in policy and practice. ‏From Playful Placemaking, to Play in Libraries, Pop Up Play Events, Play-filled Festivals and Play Streets, the Playful Paradigm offers an opportunity to bring spontaneous and uninhibited play to places and spaces in our town and city centres. 

The transfer network will run from June 2021 to December 2022 and the first meeting of those involved in the Rush project will take place on June 21 with Fingal County Council looking to use the lessons learned from participation in this network in Rush initially and then incorporating them into place-making approaches county wide.

Rush is a coastal town in north Dublin with a population of 9,921 (Census 2016). It is characterised as a commuter town with its train station supporting good access to Dublin City Centre and proximity to large employment centres in Dublin City, Swords and Dublin Airport. Rush is a linear town with a long Main Street and has a significant tradition of market gardening. The town has recently seen the development of new residential communities close to the town centre.

The Mayor of Fingal, Cllr David Healy, said: “Rush, with its own library, two beaches and two harbours, and proximity to Drumanagh Promontory Fort and the Rogerstown Estuary, which is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Special Protection Area (SPA), offers significant opportunities to introduce and develop play and placemaking and activities. The knowledge that is gained from Rush’s participation in this URBACT Transfer Initiative will be shared across the county and will benefit many other communities.”

The Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, AnnMarie Farrelly said: “The Council anticipates lodging a Rural Regeneration & Development Fund application in 2021 to implement the recommendations of the Rush Urban Framework Plan and carry out public realm improvements in the core of the town. Participation in the “Playful Cities” Transfer Network offers an opportunity to incorporate playful place-making into the planned public realm improvements and build on existing relationships with community stakeholders established during various events which have been run in Rush and with regular users of Rush Library.”

The Rush Urban Framework Plan, which was prepared in 2018 following significant consultation with the local community, sets out a strategic vision “to create a vibrant and sustainable town centre area which supports and encourages economic, social and cultural development and which is attractive to residents and visitors alike, with a high level of environmental quality to ensure an excellent quality of life for all”.

Rush’s application to be part of the URBACT Transfer Initiative was supported by the Fingal Local Community Development Committee (LCDC), the Healthy Fingal Committee and the Fingal Children and Young People’s Services Committee (CYPSC). The implementation of the project, which will involve several Council departments, will be led by the Economic, Enterprise Tourism and Cultural Development Department.

Fingal County Council’s Director of Economic, Enterprise Tourism and Cultural Development, Emer O’Gorman, said: “The initiative will inspire small-scale actions which Fingal County Council can implement in Rush to bring play to the fore of regeneration efforts and maximise public use of the town’s beaches, parks, library, theatre, playgrounds, green spaces and, in particular, the harbours which are a haven for young families during periods of fine weather and allow us to maximise the potential of the water which is a draw for young people in the town.”

Fingal County Council’s participation in this URBACT Network strengthens and builds on Fingal’s connections to Europe with Fingal already involved with Balbriggan in an URBACT Network called Iplace which focuses on examining opportunities for new local economic development and finding niches for potential future economic growth.