Rural towns awarded funding to tackle dereliction

Town Centre First is also designed to increase housing supply by bringing vacant buildings back into use.

Heather Humphreys, Kieran O'Donnell and Mairéad Hunt standing at a table looking at designs
Town centre first Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, with Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O'Donnell and Mairéad Hunt, National Town Centre First co-ordinator, at an event in Adare, Co Limerick, to mark local authorities’ completion of 26 Town Centre First Plans. Picture: Andres Poveda.

Twenty-six rural towns have been approved for a scheme which will see millions of euro spent on tackling dereliction and creating new community spaces.

The Town Centre First (TCF) initiative aims to enable areas to pursue projects like redeveloping derelict sites, creating community parks and river walkways, protecting historical landmarks and boosting tourism.

The new towns join 26 others, one in each county in the Republic of Ireland, whose final action plans were published by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys and Minister of State for Local Government Kieran O’Donnell on Wednesday.

Ms Humphreys said the scheme is about empowering people to develop a vision for their town that can make it a better place to live, work, invest in and enjoy.

She said the new town regeneration officers will ensure that the projects on vacancy have a strategic and coherent approach at local level.

“Government is firmly committed to strategic projects that will transform rural Ireland such as under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, and we are already seeing the hugely positive impacts of investment right across the country.”

The additional 26 successful towns will receive 30,000 euro each to complete their redevelopment plan.

TCF is also designed to increase housing supply by bringing vacant buildings back into use.

The programme’s national co-ordinator, Mairead Hunt said it is hoped that many more town teams will come forward.

She added: “It is very welcome that the Department of Rural and Community Development is giving local authorities funding of up to 10,000 euro to establish new town teams or build up existing teams.”