Population Explosion – How Will Local Churches Respond to Major Housing Development?
Missional Strategy Proposed to Help Parishes Meet Challenges and Opportunities in New Dublin Housing Areas.
Up to 50,000 new houses are to be built in 14 locations in Greater Dublin in the next five to 10 years. These houses will meet the demands of a rapidly growing population, providing homes for them to live in. But how will parishes meet the demands of the huge numbers of new people moving into their communities? How will they respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by such rapid housing development?
The question of how the Church of Ireland can contribute to the building of vibrant, sustainable and integrated communities is to be considered by clergy and lay people in these key development areas.
The Revd Norman McCausland, Rector of Raheny and Coolock, presented the findings of research he carried out with Caoimhe Leppard of the Office of the Archbishop of Dublin, to members of Dublin & Glendalough Diocesan Councils earlier this month. Their report proposes the formulation of a Diocesan Missional Strategy to meet the challenges and harness the opportunities presented by these developments.
“The new and planned housing development is taking place within the boundaries of historically existing parishes. The combination of rapid population growth and the detachment of people from the traditional churches and communities poses a challenge to and presents an opportunity for the local church,” Norman told members of councils.
The creation of the missional strategy is to be led primarily by those in the parishes most closely affected. However, it is hoped that support will also be come from across the dioceses.
The parishes affected by the housing developments are:
Southern Fringe – Rathmichael, Kilternan, Killiney/Ballybrack, Tullow and Crinken.
Northern Fringe – Donabate, Swords, Malahide/St Doulagh’s, Howth and Coolock.
Western Fringe – Leixlip, Lucan, Clondalkin, Celbridge/Straffan/Newcastle–Lyons and Castleknock/Mulhuddart/Clonsilla.
Docklands and Poolbeg – Irishtown and North Strand.
The report identifies where large scale development will take place under the ‘Rebuilding Ireland Initiative – An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’ which was launched by the Government in 2016.
Locations that have been designated for major development are:
Cherrywood (South Dublin) – 8,000 residential units. Population 25,000.
Clonburris (Lucan/Clondalkin/Liffey Valley) – 8,500 residential units proposed. Population 21,000.
Adamstown (West Dublin) – 7,500 residential units predicted. Population 22,000.
North City Fringe (Clongriffen/Belmayne/ Portmarnock) – 7,000 residential units. Population 22,000.
There are further Housing Delivery Sites at:
North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock (1,000 houses), Poolbeg West (3,000 houses), the Residential Lands Initiative, Kilternan–Glenamuck (2,000 houses), Shanganagh–Woodbrook (2,300 houses), Hansfield (2,500 houses), Donabate (2,200 houses), Oldtown–Mooretown Swords (3,200 houses), Corkagh (1,000 houses).
Alongside these residential developments, councils must plan for sustainable communities. This goes beyond the provision of housing units to the creation of places where people want to live and involves the provision of community facilities, resources, creation of amenities and conservation of the natural and built environment. The report asks if the requirement for the provision of community facilities by developers to help establish integrated, sustainable communities presents an opportunity for churches.
Norman suggested that the formulation and implementation of a Diocesan Missional Strategy would enable local parishes to respond to the challenges and opportunities of rapid housing development and fulfil their call to mission in the local area. This would strengthen existing parish communities while creating new and fresh expressions of church.
The strategy would also enable new pioneering ministry initiatives that shift the church’s focus from ‘doing for’ to ‘being with’ communities. It would also provide the Board of Education with a framework in which to support and develop education under Church of Ireland patronage.
The report proposes consulting with the people, ordained and lay, in the parishes immediately impacted by the new developments; researching responses to similar challenges in other dioceses such as Canterbury and Oxford; engaging the services of an external facilitator who is experienced in pioneering mission; engaging with central and local government, public representatives and relevant agencies; and providing training for leaders and individuals in local parishes as needs are identified.