Issue 18 “Dream! Dare! Do!’
- guidebook to regeneration published by Fatima
An advice manual on regeneration called ‘Dream, Dare, Do!’
has been published by Fatima Groups United and comes – free-of-charge
to community groups – with a DVD on the experience.
Many local authority estates are built on land that developers would pay
big money to take over wholesale. With regeneration schemes aimed at rejuvenating
disadvantaged areas and replacing old housing stock, communities have
been involved in power-struggles to retain land for local residents and
not have an excessive proportion of it turned over to private use. Fatima,
in particular,have succeeded against tremendous
odds to ensure the regeneration process was of primary benefit to the
Now Fatima Groups United - a Family Resource Centre funded through the
Family Support Agency – has produced the timely guide.
The book includes tips on regeneration, such as how to best handle power
struggles especially when in negotiations with local authorities and developers.
The publication also includes an extra section giving tips on how people
can avoid falling into money traps with unscrupulous and illegal money-lenders.
June 30th marked the handing over of the final two blocks of flats by
residents of Fatima Mansions. Over 100 new homes have been built as part
of the regeneration (featured in the Spring edition of ‘Changing
Ireland’) and 13 of the 1950s-era blocks have been knocked to make
way for a regenerated community.
For more information and a copy of ‘Dream, Dare, Do!’, contact:
Joe Donohue, Project Co-ordinator,
Fatima Groups United,
18J Fatima Mansions, Reubens St.,
Rialto, Dublin 8 (post is being redirected from this address to their
Step-by-step to successful regeneration
The following is a holistic plan for regenerating your community.
It is presented to visitors by Fatima Groups United and represents the
key steps on their successful road to regenerating their community. Each
of the following headings form part of the community’s Social Agenda
1 Safe Sustainable Community
Community Policing Strategy
Supporting vulnerable Families
Co-ordination of Education for all ages
Fatima Homework Club for 5-15 year olds
Digital Community Project - computer skills
3 Health & Well Being
Health promotion strategy - with HSE
Develop Health & Well Being Centre
Integration of Services
4 Sport & Recreation
Develop Recreational Sports Programme
Link to Sports Development Agencies
5 Enterprise Training & Development
Local labour clause
Community Enterprise Development
6 Arts & culture
Allocation for Public ArtArts facilities & culture programmes
Improving physical appearanceWaste managementRelationship with linear park
8 Planning & Design
Community Services & Facilities
Fit out of New Neighbourhood Centre.
Gone but not forgotten
Know what you want - don’t be afraid to dream.
Have an independent legal structure - an executive and independent chair.
Set up a strategic advisory group.
Insist on resources from the beginning.
Don’t forget the community’s ongoing needs.
Ensure that the Social Plans have equal importance as the Physical Plans.
Develop Communications Strategy - local/national.
Know the timeframe - don’t build false hopes.
Have a united community front.
Develop alliances/ supports for your vision.
Dublin’s Fatima attracting ‘regeneration tourists’
- as community centre is officially wrecked
By Tim Hourigan
Dublin’s Fatima area has almost become a tourist attraction, among
community projects and residents groups at any rate who are eager to learn
how to rebuild and regenerate a community.
And Monday, 13th March, saw the last official visitors to Fatima’s
community centre before it faced the wrecking ball. Delegations from Sligo
town and Limerick city travelled to Dublin to learn from FGU, about how it engaged in a major redevelopment that has become a model for other disadvantaged urban areas.
The visiting groups – from Cranmore and Moyross respectively - were
taken on a walk-around tour of the old blocks and the new neighbourhood
springing to life around it.
The old flat complexes, - four stories high, with no lifts - are grim
and a bit claustrophobic, with narrow stairwells and balconies. The common
areas in between have spaces for a small playground and communal washing
lines, but not a blade of grass.
Dorothy Walker, a community worker and member of the residents association,
showed us her new house that has a few things the flats never had, for
example, gas-fired heating and a garden and kerbside parking. The rent
includes €11 a week for the €3,000 worth of new furniture that
came with each new house or apartment.
Dorothy was asked what effect it had on people to see so much positive
change around them, while knowing that it was led by the community.
"You can feel the pride and the morale from seeing all this. We’re
very proud of it," she said.
The residents insisted on being involved in the design of their own neighbourhood
from the start. They choose the new street names, for instance, and they
insisted that everyone had separate front doors, and that the houses faced
out onto the streets instead of inwards to a courtyard. It was made possible
for people who had been neighbours for years in the old flats to opt to
be neighbours again in the new houses so that community links would not
While most of the new houses are already occupied, FGU is moving
temporarily into portakabins until the new purpose-built community centre
is ready in about 18 months.
Work is still in progress at Fatima, and as we left the diggers were rolling
in on the future site of two astro-turf pitches and a green park area.
When the old flats come down, the developer has plans to put in 369 private
apartments (including some at affordable housing rates, and an allocation
policy to prevent overcrowding), underground car-parking for the private
blocks, and a retails centre, a swimming pool, and 3000sq metre neighbourhood
The folks at FGU say that they plan to see this through, and end up with
an integrated and sustainable community with participation from the current
Fatima residents, and the new neighbours who will move into the private
Near the community centre, a miniature house perches atop a signpost,
pointing out the FGU’s centre, the regeneration office and another
place marked ‘The Future’.
It is the one place everyone visiting Fatima wants a squint at.
Fatima Groups United is a Family Resource Centre funded through the Family
Novel ways were adopted to get younger residents involved and
enthusiastic about the community-backed regeneration programme for Fatima:
Small groups of local kids (5-10-year-olds, 11-15-year-olds and 15-plus)
were invited to see the plans and to see some of the first new houses.
The children then presented what they saw back to their peers.
Project teaches benefits of activism
When an urban regeneration plan was announced by Dublin City Council (DCC),
the FGU staff knocked on every single door (over 360). They explained to residents that the only way they would achieve
anything was by getting as many people as possible involved in changing
FGU went to the city council, at first just asking for a few changes to
the regeneration plan, but after twice pulling out of negotiations with
the council, they eventually realised that simply demolishing the flats
and re-housing the people was not enough to create a safe and sustainable
So, they found out what the residents wanted, physically and for the social
agenda. They then took the initiative by commissioning a report from Dr.
Mary Corcoran of Maynooth and got architects and planners to draw up their
own master plan for Fatima "11 acres - 10 steps" which the Council
then incorporated into the plans for redeveloping the community. It gave
the community influence on how the project would proceed and established
the Fatima Regeneration Board, with the residents having 6 of the 11 seats
on the board, and the remaining 5 going to the council, the developer,
Gardai, and the Health Board.
The community now has a well-being centre (which provides health services
beyond the bad old days of issuing methadone to heroin addicts) a crèche,
and a homework club to help kids stay in education.
The residents also negotiated a local labour clause to ensure that some
of the residents could find employment in the demolition and construction
involved, while others would get pre-apprenticeship training so they could
apply for construction work in the future.
CCTV does not always appeal
In Dublin, Fatima residents voted recently not to install a CCTV system
in their new neighbourhood, reports Tim Hourigan.
They hoped that it will not be needed, but they also were not very impressed
with the usefulness of CCTV, complaining that the CCTV system in the old
flats complex was not actively monitored, and was generally only used
by the council and the Gardai during evictions or raids.
As visitor Paddy Flannery from Moyross, Limerick, pointed out, an unmonitored
system is of little use in deterring anti-social behaviour.
In Moyross, where Paddy is manager of the Community Enterprise Centre,
it is monitored on a 24-hour basis, and the footage has been
used in several successful prosecutions.
On the subject of viable residents groups, Tracy McElligott, a development
worker with Moyross Residents’ Forum (and a member of the local
CDP) outlined that since there were 1100 houses in her area, it was decided
to break the estate up into 11 more manageable parks. Each park now has
a residents association and each has two delegates who sit on the main
Residents Forum along with representatives from the community centre,
local council, gardai, Bus Eireann, and other groups working in the community.
This approach gives residents more involvement in and awareness of issues
such as public lighting, the management of green areas, and protecting
the bus service, claims Tracy.
‘Not used to heating’
One long-time Fatima resident said there was no central heating
in the old flats and the people on the top floor had to bring coal bags
up the three flights of stairs.
She is happy in her new house, but there are some things she’s not
quite used to yet: "I turn off the central heating, cos I never had
it in the flats and I’m not used to it."
Most of the new houses (with apartments overhead) are built with
yellow brick, but the ones on St. Anthony’s road are redbrick, to
fit in with the older houses. Rather than towering over the neighbourhood,
like the old flats, the new houses have been designed to blend in with
pre-existing houses in neighbouring streets.
Mind your gables!
A regeneration tip:
Instead of having gable ends as part of the public space, enclose
the gables with a small wall or fence so people cannot congregate as easily
at the side of anyone’s house.
Urban Regeneration process criticised at TCD conference
There was heavy criticism of the lack of an effective
community role in the Public Private Partnership model of Urban Regeneration
at a recent conference in Trinity College hosted by the Centre for Urban
and Regional Studies.
Representatives from the Community Forum in O’Devanney Gardens questioned
the accuracy of the claim from Claire Feeney from Dublin City Council
when she said that the Regeneration Board for the O’Devanney Gardens
project had already been set up.
"The Regeneration Board has not been set up as a separate company
as was the case in Fatima Mansions," said Lena Jordan from the O’Devanney
Gardens Community Forum. "We also query the status of the community
charter agreed by Dublin City Council because the Regeneration Board has
no teeth, and the developer will put pressure on to get more private apartments
and retail space at the expense of community facilities."
The €280million O’Devanney Gardens development is one of the biggest
undertaken by Dublin City Council through the Public-Private Partnership
(PPP) process. The tender process is almost complete and the developer
will be announced shortly. Grainne Foy, Development Worker with An Siol
CDP was critical of the way existing community structures such as the
Community Forum were by-passed in the consultation process.
"The Community Forum had been working on this issue since 1997, but
at a critical time when the Community Charter was being agreed, they were
effectively by-passed," she said.
Michael Punch from the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, was also
critical of the process undertaken within O’Devanney Gardens. A
good regeneration process, he said, requires two things in order that
there is an effective delivery of community gain - a period of capacity
building for the local community groups, and a regeneration board with
legal status and an independent chair.
Summarising a research paper based on the O’Devanney Gardens experience,
he said the recommendations at community level were to:
a) develop an independent and strong local structure,
b) don’t get divided,
c) keep asking questions,
d) and learn from elsewhere and seek advice from groups such as the local
CDPs working in your area.
Several contributers at the Trinity College conference commented that
there now seemed to be ‘definite rowback’ in Dublin City Council
policy since the experience of Fatima Mansions. (See story below).
Joe O’Donoghue of Fatima Groups United admits there is a lot of
drawbacks with the PPP process but says that as a result of the local
organisation of community groups and the effective use of media and lobbying,
the local community has been able to gain significant concessions in the
Earlier in the year CDPs working in several DCC areas
were concerned that they were being purposefully ‘bypassed’
by DCC officials in consultation processes linked to urban
According to the CDPs, Dublin City Council seemed intent on regarding
the CDPs as an ‘external layer’ and wanted only to deal with
tenant groups directly. In a later meeting with DCC the
CDPs were reassured by DCC representatives that their role in consultation
and regeneration was fully recognised.
Further doubt has been thrown on the PPP process in a recent article in
the Irish Times by Dr Eoin Reeves of the University of Limerick.
"The economic case for PPP is weak," he said. A project to contract
and build schools was recently subject to a review by the Auditor and
Comptroller General who found the cost was 8% to 13% higher than using
the conventional approach of direct state expenditure.
President fan of Fatima people-power
President Mary McAleese visited Fatima Mansions United in mid-November
to congratulate the local regeneration board for "setting an agenda
for disadvantaged communities everywhere."
"There is an air of optimism and excitement in the area as the work
of Fatima Groups United and The Fatima Regeneration Board, under the chairmanship
of Finbarr Flood, reveals itself in one of our country's most ambitious
regeneration projects," she said.
In Fatima Mansions, the Regeneration Company was set up as a separate
company with an independent chairperson and CEO employed by the Regeneration
company. A Social Regeneration Agenda forms a major part of the local
plan in achieving ‘community gain’ from the Public-Private
"When I last was here, your plans were just that – a book of
ideas, born out of very bleak times and a strong determination that things
were going to get better. Your faith, resilience and commitment are as
incredible as they are inspirational, for few communities experienced
such overwhelming problems as you did," said the Republic’s
She hoped that community spirit is "soaring with pride", adding:
"This is people power at its shining best."
"A community knocked down by so many adversities has fought back,
taken control of its landscape, its future and the future of its children.
You have said loud and clear that tomorrow's Ireland is going to be a
place where people care about one another, where children grow up in safe
neighbourhoods, where their talents blossom naturally and where poverty
and disadvantage are under constant attack until they disappear from our
history books for good."
The first phase of the redevelopment, the completion of 110 houses for
Dublin City Council tenants, is finished and Phase Two is due to start
soon. Some of the old flats remained to be demolished.
Once finished, there will be homes, gardens, a Luas stop, shops, a community
centre, a swimming pool, gym, crèche and outdoor football areas.
"The people who live here will, I hope, find here the happiness of
a peaceful community free from the scourges that threatened their peace
of mind for so many long years," said President McAleeese, adding:
"Fatima has set the standard and awakened the ambitions of other
neighbourhoods that yearn for regeneration. Fatima is now the place that
others are looking to for advice and guidance – what a transformation
– what a credit to the people of Fatima Mansions."
She thanked Gemma McKenna and Joe Donohoe of the Fatima Groups
United for their invitation to Fatima.