Walking Matters engages with communities

WalkingMatters works with the community and its decision makers to support the delivery of a better quality built environment. Ireland faces growing pressure to develop our towns and living areas more sensitively while also protecting our built heritage.  We can help communities, local authorities, and other clients to take a more inclusive and participatory approach to development. 

This means working directly with community groups to identify the quality of a public space before investing time and money in improving it.  Communities develop a better understanding about design quality and how spaces work and are therefore more engaged in the process of making them work.

WalkingMatters believes that creating public spaces and built environments that put people and walking at the centre builds positive coalitions of interests and outcomes.

Our work:


Patricia Gardiner of WalkingMatters, is a registered Heritage Specialist under the Heritage in the Schools Scheme.

Patricia conducts workshops in which the children explore the built environment around their school and work through the implications for how students and teachers travel there each day. They look at their own journeys to school and think about how the built environment helps or hinders low-carbon travel.

The children carry out an audit of the streets in the immediate vicinity of the school and may draft may develop designs or proposals for how the area could be improved to support walking and cycling.

The Heritage in Schools Scheme is a programme funded by the Heritage Council and administered by the INTO Professional Development Unit. The scheme supports the stated aims and objectives of the SESE curriculum and provides and additional educational tool for teachers. The primary aim of the scheme is to raise awareness of the natural and built heritage among children, teachers and parents. The Scheme offers a panel of Heritage Specialists who will, at the request of a teacher, visit a primary school to work directly with the children.

The booking form is included in the directory. The visit is part-funded by the school and the remaining fee plus expenses are funded by the Heritage Council. For more details see the Irish National Teachers' Organisation website.

Patricia also tailors workshops to fit the needs of the class - from working with Juniors to Develop Citizenship in the SPHE strand by critically examining the community and streets around the school to advocate for pragmatic and place-based solutions, to workshops on the design and usage of seating in public spaces for senior art students.  Looking at transport, low-carbon travel and climate change are all features of the school workshops, which are adapted to suit age group.

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Community Groups:

Redwood Village

WalkingMatters worked with Redwood Village Community Council to produce a guide on developing Redwood Village as a Walkable Community.

Clúid Housing Association

WalkingMatters is working with the Residents Association at St. Patrick’s Estate, Ballina to to develop an understanding of the principles of community/urban redevelopment and the principles of placemaking to identify community assets, and come up with ways to use, value and protect the public space within the community.

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Local Authorities:

Spaceshaper 9-14
Young people are major users of parks, streets, playgrounds and other public spaces but are often overlooked during community consultations.  Getting them involved in the design process can raise their aspirations for public spaces, increasing respect for and use of a completed space.  Spaceshaper 9-14 brings a framework to examine a space. It's a practical toolkit developed by the Commission for Architecture & the Build Environment to measure a public space's quality, before investing time and money in improvements.  

Patricia Gardiner of WalkingMatters is a trained Facilitator for this Spaceshaper toolkit.

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Abbott Pharmacuticial

Walking Matters worked with Abbott to carry out a survey of the staff to see how they travelled to work. It was part of a programme to develop initiatives to support car-pooling and alternatives to single-vehicle occupancy travel to work. Businesses of all sizes benefit from developing and implementing a Workplace Travel Plan (also known as a Mobility Management Plan. Such a plan consists of a package of measures to promote and support more sustainable travel habits among employees, clients and visitors. Companies with more than 250 employees can get help from the National Transport Authority to carry out Mobility Management Plan. For help and advice, contact us.

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The Heritage Council

WalkingMatters has organised a conference and series of workshops around theme of Space, Place & Nature in Sligo: Connecting our Built Heritage & the Urban Environment. The aim is to look at how we connect important items of our built heritage and by looking at the quality of the streets that bring this built heritage together. The focus is to encourage people to look at the quality of our walking environment as a key part of protecting our built heritage – and also in building sustainable, healthy communities.

Heritage Week:

WalkingMatters has conducted public workshops around the themes of public space and streetscapes as part of Heritage Week in partnership with a range of organisations from Office of Public Works (OPW) and Sligo Library.

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