News & Media

Time for a National Community Garden and Spaces Policy

12 May 2021

Statement by Senator Mark Wall
Spokesperson on Defence, Tourism and Sport
  • Pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for the development of A National Community Garden and Spaces policy.
  • Housing emergency needs more than bricks and mortar solutions.

Labour Senator Mark Wall has called for an urgent national policy on Community Gardens and Community Spaces for the country. Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development, Senator Wall said it's disgraceful that such a policy does not exist given the impact of proper community spaces on mental health. As we address the housing emergency, we need a plan in place to develop sustainable and thriving communities.

Senator Wall said:

“One of the biggest outturns of this pandemic is the amount of people who have re-engaged with the outdoors and what is available in their community. There is an urgent need for a national policy on how we can create community gardens and spaces where people can unwind and enjoy the significant mental health benefits of gardening and the outdoors.

“What we need to see is a comprehensive policy that would allow the many voluntary groups seeking to provide such outlets a roadmap on how to achieve their ambitions. This would have a huge impact on the mental health of the communities they represent.

“We urgently need to go back building council houses where possible on every potential and suitable piece of land available to our local authorities. The pandemic has proved to us all the vital importance of having a safe and secure roof over our heads. However, we must also build warm and vibrant communities. We also need to provide spaces in our communities that will assist the undoubted mental health problems that we will face coming out of this pandemic.

“Every town, rural townland and urban area should have a masterplan developed, which would demonstrate how the public spaces, as well as the necessary services and amenities, would be provided so that housing is integrated into sustainable, thriving communities.

“Every child deserves to grow up in decent housing in a good neighbourhood. As we address the housing crisis, we need to build sustainable communities which are welcoming, inviting people out to public space to socialise and enjoy the many benefits of the great outdoors. This will have a knock-on impact on creating good, local jobs and encouraging flourishing communities nationwide.”