The Programme for Government includes a commitment for an expanded Town and Village Renewal Scheme to bring vacant and derelict buildings back into use and promote residential occupancy. The focus of the initiative is on renovating or repurposing properties for residential use rather than providing a specific incentive for young persons to purchase vacant properties.
In October 2018, my Department launched a Town Centre Living Initiative to explore in a holistic way how to encourage increased residential occupancy in rural towns and villages. The pilot focused on 6 towns with different characteristics in different parts of the country.
An independent report on the pilot Town Centre Living Initiative was published on 22nd June 2020. The report highlighted the value of developing a shared vision, or masterplan, for individual towns if they are to be attractive places in which to live.
In that regard, I have secured an additional €2 million in Budget 2021 as part of the expanded Town and Village Renewal Scheme, which will be used to support the development of masterplans as a basis for the strategic development of our rural towns and villages. This initiative will be progressed early in 2021 and further details will be announced at that time.
An Inter-Departmental Group has also been established which will consider all of the suggested actions in the report on the Town Centre Living initiative, as well as progressing the commitment in the Programme for Government to develop a Town Centre First approach to the regeneration of our towns and villages. The Group recently held its first meeting and is chaired jointly by my Department and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.