Ireland launches a new €15 million fund to help revitalize downtowns of rural towns and villages by boosting quality of life

On May 3, 2021, Ireland‘s Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, announced €15 million in funding to help revitalize rural towns and villages post Covid-19.

The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is designed to breathe new life into rural communities; making them more attractive places to live, work, socialize and raise a family.

The initiative is a key part of Our Rural Future – the Government’s five year strategy to revitalize rural Ireland.

Minister Humphreys said, “As part of the Government ambitious new rural development policy, Our Rural Future, I am determined to make our rural towns and villages vibrant and attractive places to live, work, socialise and raise a family. As part of the €15 million Fund I am announcing today, I want to see innovative and exciting projects coming forward that will make a real and lasting difference in our rural towns and villages.

The measures that will be supported by the 2021 Town and Village Renewal Scheme include:

  • Tackling dereliction in town centers;
  • Turning vacant properties into remote working and community spaces;
  • Supporting Local Authorities to run innovative marketing campaigns targeted at attracting remote workers to their county;
  • Investing in green spaces, parks and recreational amenities;
  • Upgrading and improving shop fronts & streetscapes on Main Streets; and
  • Projects that support and enhance the night time economy and add vibrancy to town centers.

The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is administered through the Local Authorities, who are required to work closely with local communities and local businesses to develop and implement proposals.

The focus of this year’s scheme is to renovate derelict and vacant buildings in our town centres and give them a new purpose – whether it is for remote working, cultural or community use. I have increased the maximum grant to €500,000 this year so that projects of scale and ambition can be put forward,” she added. “I also want to see Local Authorities engaging with local businesses and property owners on our main streets and putting forward collaborative projects to upgrade shop fronts and enhance our streetscapes. Support is also available for murals in our town centres, perhaps dedicated to local cultural or sporting personalities and events. This is all about adding colour and vibrancy to our towns and villages making them more attractive places to live, work in and visit.”

The previous maximum grant of €200,000 has been increased to €500,000 under this year’s scheme so that projects of scale can be supported.

Most importantly, I want to seize the momentum around remote working and for that reason, I am supporting Local Authorities to run innovative marketing campaigns highlighting what their area has to offer in terms of remote working facilities as well as cultural and recreational amenities. This is about showcasing our rural towns and villages with the aim of attracting remote workers and the so called ‘digital nomads’ to come and live in rural Ireland,” Humphries concluded.

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