On October 11, 2018, six rural Irish towns were invited to develop innovative proposals to encourage more people to live in rural town centers. The six towns which have been identified for the initial pilot are:
- Boyle, County Roscommon
- Callan, County Kilkenny
- Ballinrobe, County Mayo
- Banagher, County Offaly
- Castleblayney, County Monaghan
- Cappoquin, County Waterford.
Each of these towns will receive funding of up to €100,000 to engage with their communities and local businesses, and arrive at practical solutions that can be delivered to achieve the objective of increasing the number of people living in our rural towns.
Announcing the initiative, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, T.D., said: “Today, I am inviting six rural towns to develop innovative approaches to encourage town center living. This Pilot scheme will encourage these towns to come up with solutions to the challenges they face and to exploit the potential they have, all with a view to encouraging people to move back in to them. The lessons learnt through this pilot initiative will inform our approach to supporting and investing in rural towns and villages. In January, a €1 billion Rural Regeneration Fund announced as part of Project Ireland 2040, will start providing funding to rural towns and villages with a population under 10,000. This is an unprecedented Government investment in rural towns and villages.”
He added, “This Pilot Scheme can provide valuable lessons on how we invest in our towns and villages through this landmark fund and other measures such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. We need to encourage more people to come and live in our towns in order to fully revitalise those town centers, underpinned by vibrant communities. The €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund provides an opportunity to take the emerging ideas to implementation stage. The aim is to be in a position to determine the viability of each proposal in the first part of 2019, in advance of the next call for proposals under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.”
“The Government has invested €53 million in town and village renewal over the last two years, supporting over 670 projects which focus on stimulating economic activity and improving the attractiveness of town and village centers for local people and for visitors. The reasons why more people do not live in town centers are many and complex. The availability of schools, public transport, recreational areas, public realm, a good retail mix, and social networks, all need to be part of the offering to encourage people to want to live in town centers. This pilot initiative will allow six Local Authorities to develop and test different innovative models which are considered appropriate for towns of different sizes and in different locations. The lessons learned from this approach will help to provide an indication as to what might work well for similar types of town on a wider scale,” Ring explained.
“The intention is to look at all of the elements that go into making towns and villages more attractive for residential occupancy, including infrastructure and services, and arrive at blueprints for each town to attract more people to live in their centers. These towns represent a broad range of towns in different parts of the country, each with their own strengths and challenges. Therefore, they may well come up with different solutions to meet the needs of their own area,” he concluded.
Photo of market square in Boyle, Ireland by Sarah777 via Wikipedia.