Pilot initiative will complement €1 billion Rural Regeneration Fund and other Government supports for rural towns and villages
Six rural towns have been invited to develop innovative proposals to encourage more people to live in rural town centres. The six towns which have been identified for the initial pilot are:
Each of these towns will receive funding of up to €100,000 to engage with their communities and local businesses, and arrive at practical solutions that can be delivered to achieve the objective of increasing the number of people living in our rural towns.
Announcing the initiative today (Thursday), the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, T.D., said:
Minister Ring continued:
The primary objective of the pilot initiative is to encourage more people to opt to live in town centres in rural Ireland. The initiative complements the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
A Steering Group was set up in early 2018 to examine how best to achieve the objective of increasing residential occupancy in town centres. The group comprised the Department of Rural and Community Development, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Finance, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and Offaly Council Council representing the Local Authorities. Other stakeholder consultations were also carried out by the Department of Rural and Community Development.
The consensus of the Steering Group was that the best way to proceed was through the development of a small number of well-planned pilot initiatives that could be delivered and scaled up quickly. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this issue. Every rural town has its own strengths, but also has issues that need to be addressed.
The factors which attract people to live in particular settlements can be many and varied, including the availability of schools, shops, transport and other services. Apart from the need to identify suitable properties which may be available for residential purposes, it is important that the right infrastructure and services are in place, or can be developed, to make the town attractive and safe for people and families to live in.
Arising from the work which has been carried out, a pilot initiative, which looks at taking a holistic approach to town centre living, will be piloted in a small number of towns initially, with a view to a wider roll-out over time if the pilot is successful.
The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will provide an opportunity to take the emerging ideas to implementation stage, if they prove to be effective.