The first call for applications for the rural regeneration and development fund closed at the end of September. A total of €1 billion has been committed to the fund over a ten-year period to support rural economic development and help to build strong communities. A total of €55 million has been allocated for the fund in budget 2019. The objective of the fund is to drive co-ordinated investment between Departments, agencies, local authorities and other public bodies working together with local communities and the private sector to transform rural towns and villages and surrounding areas. The fund is intended to support ambitious projects that can support rural regeneration and development and are outside the scope of existing schemes.
Key outcomes should be supporting community and economic development in rural Ireland. The types of activity that can be supported by the fund are varied and include addressing infrastructural deficits to support town centre housing or commercial development; infrastructure that improves accessibility, supporting walking, cycling and public transport links but also improvements to roads, bridges and car parking facilities that encourage footfall; the development of areas, sites and buildings for community facilities; public amenity facilities; and projects to support job creation. Full details on all types of activity that could potentially be supported by the fund are in the information booklet published on the Department's website - www.drcd.ie.
Information sessions were also hosted by my Department throughout the country for those interested in making applications. I am pleased to say there was a great response to the first call for proposals, with 290 applications received. Of these, 125 were for category 1 shovel ready projects, while the other 165 were for category 2 projects, those which need development funding to become potential category 1 applications in the future. I am informed by my officials that six applications for funding have been received from County Tipperary.
Assessment criteria are published and the applications are being assessed by a project advisory board. The board includes representatives from key Departments and external experts. By the end of this month, I expect to receive recommendations from the project advisory board for the first group of category 1 projects for funding. Further announcements on successful category 1 and category 2 projects will follow. I also expect to announce a further call for proposals in 2019.