· Focus on tackling dereliction, vacant properties and making town centres more attractive places to live, work, socialise and run a business
· Initiative to help re-imagine and revitalise rural communities as part of forthcoming Town Centre First Policy
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today announced €2.6 million in funding to deliver the first ever Town Centre First Plans, which will be key to tackling dereliction and revitalising town centres.
As part of the initiative, each local authority will be provided with €100,000 to support the development of its own unique master plan.
Among the 26 towns selected include Carrick-on-Shannon in Co. Leitrim, Skibbereen in Co. Cork, Roscrea in Co. Tipperary and Abbeyfeale in Co. Limerick.
Clara in Co. Offaly, Clane in Co. Kildare, New Ross in Co. Wexford and Gort in Co. Galway are other examples of towns selected.
Each local authority will now work closely with local community groups, retailers and the other members of the Town Teams in devising and delivering on the objectives of their respective masterplans.
This initiative is a key part of Our Rural Future – the Government’s ambitious five-year strategy designed to reimagine and revitalise Rural Ireland.
It is also linked to the Government’s ‘Housing for All’ strategy and the forthcoming ‘Town Centre First Policy’, which will be announced in the coming weeks.
Announcing the details of the 26 towns, Minister Humphreys said:
“I am really pleased to announce the first ever Town Centre First Plans as part of a €2.6 million investment for Rural Ireland.
“Each local authority has put forward one of their towns which will receive €100,000 from my Department to develop its own unique master plan.
“This is about delivering on the objectives of ‘Our Rural Future’ and ensuring our towns have the right plan in place to tackle the issues of dereliction, vacant properties, and above all, to become better places to live, work and run a business.
“The development of these 26 Plans will feed into the Government’s overall Town Centre First Policy, which will be launched in the coming weeks.”
The Town Centre First Plans will be guided by a strong empirical base and developed collaboratively with local Town Teams involving community, business, as well as public private stakeholders.
It is envisaged that the Plans will cover the importance of “place-making”, town centre living, the social and economic purpose of the town, and respond to emerging opportunities such as those linked to remote working, climate action and digitalisation.
The Plans will also be central to addressing vacancy and dereliction in these locations.
€100,000 will be available to each town.
Towns for this first phase were selected based on submissions received from the Local Authorities.
The funding will support each local authority, working with a collaborative Town Team, to develop a be-spoke TCF plan to guide the development of each town.
The focus will be on the town centre and immediate surrounds. Each Plan will set out specific actions and interventions and help unlock national funding streams such as the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and the Town & Village Renewal Scheme to resource delivery of these interventions.
Minister Humphreys continued:
“Our rural towns and villages play a central role in the lives of people in rural areas. They are where we live, work, shop and socialise. It is important that we ensure our towns and villages remain vibrant, vital and relevant places.
“Each town selected as part of this initiative will has its own strengths and each will face different challenges as it maps out its future path. No one size fits all policy will work.
“The Plans will be developed in tandem with Town Teams that are representative of the local towns and who can bring a wealth of knowledge and local expertise.”
The Minister concluded:
“I am delighted that ‘Our Rural Future’ continues to deliver tangible benefits across Rural Ireland. We are rolling out a range of investments for our towns and villages, particularly through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and the Town & Village Renewal Scheme.
“The €7 million Streetscape Enhancement Scheme is also having a really positive impact in approximately 120 towns and villages right across the county.
“These Plans being announced today will form part of the Government’s wider Town Centre First Policy which will be published shortly in conjunction with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
“Finally, I should stress that this is the first phase of funding for these Plans under the Town Centre First Policy and other towns will be afforded opportunities to develop such plans as we move forward.”