The rejuvenation of our towns and villages is a priority for the Government and is a strong feature of the national planning framework, NPF, and the Action Plan for Rural Development.
As part of the Government's efforts to rejuvenate towns, I launched a pilot initiative on 11 October 2018 to examine how best to encourage people to take up residence in towns. The town centre living initiative is being piloted in six towns of different sizes around the country.
The reasons people do not choose to live in town centres, even if premises are available, are complex. These may relate to the availability of services, recreational facilities, access to public transport etc.
Each of the towns in the pilot will receive funding of up to €100,000 to engage with their communities, chambers of commerce and local businesses to identify practical solutions that can be delivered to achieve the objective of increasing the number of people living in the town. Every town’s situation is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, the ideas emerging from this pilot may serve as a model for other towns with similar features.
It is envisaged that the solutions identified through the six pilot towns will lead to the development of more proposals for funding from the rural regeneration and development fund.
The rural regeneration and development fund will provide €1 billion up to 2027 to support the revitalisation of rural settlements with a population of less than 10,000 people, and their outlying areas. The fund aims to support ambitious projects of scale that are multifaceted and which will make a significant impact on the economic and social development of our towns.
I announced the first round of projects to be supported under the fund on 23 November and further announcements will be made in the new year.