Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (720)

Fergus O'Dowd


720. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if she will respond to concerns raised in correspondence by an organisation (details supplied) in respect of the town and village renewal scheme; if he will seek the best advice for the organisation going forward; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2210/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Standard Measure under the 2020 Town and Village Renewal Scheme had a particular focus on projects delivering an economic dividend and enabling towns and villages to respond to COVID-19 challenges. The scheme also continued to support public-realm type activities and the enhancement of town centre amenities, particularly where this aids the economic and/or social recovery of a town or village.

Under the 2020 scheme, each Local Authority was invited to submit up to 10 projects to the Department for consideration. Selection of projects for submission to the Department was a matter for each Local Authority to determine.

Almost 250 applications were received under the Standard Measure of the 2020 Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the level of funding sought far exceeded the available budget. Funding under the Scheme was awarded on a competitive basis, with all applications being assessed for suitability for funding. Unfortunately, it was not possible to fund all of the proposals received and the application referred to by the Deputy was not amongst the 147 successful projects approved for funding of €15.4 million that I announced recently.

The application referred to by the Deputy included provision for car parking for a local sports ground. Car park improvements are an eligible activity for funding under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme where the improvements are expressly designed to encourage increased footfall in town centres. This was not adequately demonstrated in the case of the application referred to by the Deputy and, in addition, the Scheme gives less priority generally to works around sports grounds.

My officials are available to discuss the project application further with the relevant Local Authority as required.