Plan to encourage town centre rejuvenation launched

Major regeneration plans are in the works for local towns.

A new strategy to tackle vacancy and dereliction in town centres has been launched by Government.

The Town Centre First policy hopes to “breathe new life into town centres”, with new investment planned and supports for businesses and communities.

It’s the latest major policy announced to encourage the rejuvenation of town centres and ties in with the “Housing for All” and “Our Rural Future” projects.

Town Centre First contains what are described as “33 unique actions” which it says will “give towns the tools and resources they need to become more viable and attractive places in which to live, work, visit and run a business”.

However, no new funding has been announced as part of the programme, with the report saying it is “underpinned by multi-billion euro investment spread across major Government schemes such as the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF), the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), Crói Conaithe (Towns) Fund and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme”. All are existing funding schemes.

The Abbeylands regeneration project in Cavan town is cited in the report as an example of major rejuvenation projects underway across the country.

€15 million in funding was announced for that project last March, with planning work continuing.

Separately, Bailieborough was chosen last December to have the first Town Centre First plan drawn up in Co Cavan. €100,000 in funding was announced by Minister Humphreys to allow for the policy to be coordinated.

Specific towns designated under the plan will gain their own dedicated Town Regeneration Officers, who will coordinate and drive future development in town centres.

The policy also contains a range of actions designed to achieve objectives like social and economic revival in towns, the provision of housing, as well as addressing challenges like vacancy and derelict buildings.Measures to support the protection of the environment and the heritage and culture of towns are also included.

Town Centre First was launched in Moate, Co Westmeath today by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, the Minister for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke TD; and the Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD.