The Action Plan for Rural Development 2017-2019 included a commitment to develop a pilot initiative to encourage increased residential occupancy in town and village centres. It was originally envisaged that a small grants scheme might be introduced to encourage the regeneration and repurposing of vacant buildings in town centres for residential purposes.
A Steering Group with representatives from a number of Government Departments and the Local Government sector was established to guide the process and it was considered that a more integrated solution, involving all aspects of town living, was required.
On foot of a recommendation from the Steering Group, the pilot Town Centre Living Initiative was launched in October 2018. The aim of this initiative was to explore how to encourage increased residential occupancy in rural towns and villages and, at the same time, address the issue of vacant properties. Funding of up to €100,000 was made available for this purpose through the Local Authorities, focusing 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 outlines the approach taken by each town under the pilot and sets out the key issues identified to encourage increased town centre living and the repurposing of vacant properties for modern living. The report highlights the multiplicity of factors that need to be addressed which cut across a number of Government Departments and agencies highlight that action is needed at all levels, including from national and local government to communities on the ground. The cross-cutting actions needed span multiple government departments and agencies.
A Steering Group is now being established to review the suggested actions identified in the report and a set of proposals for new policy measures to further encourage and support people to live in rural town centres will be brought forward to Government.
The full report on the Town Centre Living Initiative is available on the gov.ie website at