I launched the pilot scheme to encourage increased residential occupancy in rural towns and villages last October, and announced that six rural towns had been invited to participate in the initial pilot scheme. The scheme is being led locally by the relevant Local Authorities, in close collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, and is over seen by my Department.
The 6 towns which were identified for inclusion in the pilot are:
1. Boyle, Co Roscommon
2. Callan, Co Kilkenny
3. Ballinrobe, Co Mayo
4. Banagher, Co Offaly
5. Castleblayney, Co Monaghan
6. Cappoquin, Co Waterford
Funding of up to €100,000 each is being made available to the relevant towns to develop proposals to encourage town centre living. This funding will be used by the Local Authorities to engage with communities and local businesses, and identify practical solutions to increase the number of people living in their towns.
The towns in the pilot are of different sizes and in different parts of the country, each with their own strengths and challenges. Therefore, they may each come up with different solutions to meet the needs of their own area.
I will receive a report from each of the Local Authorities by the middle of the year on the progress which they have made. It is envisaged that the solutions identified could lead to the development of more substantive proposals for funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in due course.