According to the Heritage Act, 1995, 'landscape' includes areas, sites, vistas and features of significant scenic, archaeological, geological, historical, ecological or other scientific interest. The Heritage Council's vision is that the Irish landscape will be a dynamic, living landscape, one which accommodates the physical and spiritual needs of people, with the needs of nature in a harmonious manner, and as a result, bring long-term benefits to both.
The current Offaly County Development Plan is a key document in how the landscape of Offaly is managed and planned for setting out objectives and policies.
In 2009 the then Offaly County Council Manager, Pat Gallagher presented a paper at the Irish National Landscape Conference called Local Authorities and Landscape which gives an interesting context. 'This paper seeks to explain the role of local authorities in relation to the landscape, discuss where we as a country are in terms of landscape policy and practice, and make some observations as to where we go from here.' Download Local Authorities and Landscape by County Manager, Pat Gallagher, 2009.The Offaly Heritage office has participated in a number of projects to document and explore the landscape of Offaly. In 2005 the Discovery Programme drew up a report on the Historic Landscape Character mapping carried out in Offaly. Download Offaly, Historic Landscape Characterisation by Anthony Corns and Margaret Murphy of the Discovery Programme.
In 2006 the concept of Historic Landscape Character Assessment was piloted in Killeigh. This is a method by which a detailed holistic study of the historical development and environmental significance of an area is undertaken. The technique presents an overview of the physical, natural, human, and cultural heritage of an area with specific reference to the interaction between the various elements. Download the Killeigh Historic Landscape Character Assessment prepared for Offaly County Council by the Dublin Institute of Technology.
A Village Design Statement was facilitated by CAAS Consulting in 2002 with the community in Kilcormac. Download the Kilcormac Village Design Statement. In 2003 / 2004 the community in Pollagh prepared a Village Design Statement assited by with Michael Cregan and Associates. Download the Pollagh Village Design Statement. Much work has been done nationally on village design statements since then and current guidance should be consulted download Heritage Council Community-Led Village Design Statement Toolkit
Public Realm Plans -Public realm is a broad term used to describe the form and use of outdooor areas that are accessible to the public. This includes streets, squares, paths, parks and car parks, thus accounting for a large percentage of the town's land mass and greatly influencing the way in which it looks and functions.
In 2008 /9 the Birr Public Realm Plan was completed by the Paul Hogarth Company. Download Birr Public Realm Plan. Since then there have been monthly steering group meetings to discuss and plan its delivery. There were also regular presentations and discussion with Birr Town Councillors and regular meetings with the Chamber of Commerce and Birr Tidy Towns. On Monday 4th March 2013 there was a meeting which provided a summary of the progress in delivering the Public Realm Plan. Download the Birr Public Realm Plan Progress Report March 2013
In 2012, a one day work shop to examine the Public Realm in Geashill was carried out. Download the Geashill Public Realm Document 2012.
Through the 2013 Engage with Architecture project there was the partnership between architects and local communities for the Mapping Towns Project. This brought out interesting information about vacancy / occupancy rates in 2013 and also the continuity of form in settlements.
Banagher Mapping Towns - Fran Moran worked with Banagher Tidy Towns and Banagher College.
Daingean Mapping Towns - Patrick Little of Axis Architecture worked with Daingean Development.
Kinnitty Mapping Towns - Peter Lyons of Kenny Lyons worked with Kinnitty Tidy Towns
Tullamore Mapping Towns - Adam Hernes of Kenny Lyons Architects with Tullamore College and Offaly History.