RECONOMICS: Ireland’s successful $1.13 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund enters its fourth phase of revitalization

On December 17, 2021, Ireland‘s Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, announced the fourth call for Category 1 applications to the €1 billion ($1.13 billion USD)  Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF).

This fund is a key part of Our Rural Future and will support landmark regeneration projects that help revitalize rural towns and villages. Hopefully, at least some of these communities will have a certified Revitalization & Resilience Facilitator on staff to help ensure that the funding achieves its aims.

The projects put forward will rejuvenate town centers, boost economic growth and footfall and make our rural towns and villages more attractive places to live, work and raise a family.

There is a big focus too on projects that involve transforming old or derelict buildings into remote working hubs, libraries, e-learning, cultural, enterprise, youth and community spaces.

Announcing the funding, Minister Humphreys said, “Today, I am opening the fourth call for Category One applications to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. I want to see ambitious projects that are shovel ready and have the potential to breathe new life into our towns and villages – making them more vibrant and attractive places to live, work, run a business and raise a family. This Fund is about realising the vision that we have for rural Ireland. It’s about delivering on the objectives of ‘Our Rural Future’, which is already having a hugely positive impact in communities right across the country.”

Projects that will be funded under Category One are those that have full planning and other consents in place and are ready to commence at the date of application.

Examples of projects were approved for funding earlier this year include:

  • Ballybofey-Stranolar, Co. Donegal: Major restoration of old Ritz Cinema into an Enterprise and Remote Working Hub.
  • Ballymahon, Co. Longford: Renovation of three historic town centre buildings including a former convent into a Co-Working Space, Youth Hub and Community Centre.
  • Youghal, Co. Cork: Transformation of a derelict site and buildings on the main street into a new library, remote learning hub and community space.
  • Thurles, Co. Tipperary: Renovation of a 19th Century vacant agriculture building and associated car park to create the new Thurles Market Quarter.
  • Portumna, Co. Galway: Repurposing the vacant courthouse into a new mult-purpose arts, performance, remote working and social space.

To date, the RRDF has provided over €255 million for 164 projects worth a total of €347 million.

I want to see projects that can improve the quality of life for the tens of thousands of families who live in Rural Ireland. I want to see projects that will tackle dereliction, give old buildings a new and lasting purpose and realise the Government’s desire to seize the opportunities posed by remote working,” Humphreys continued. “As we have seen already, this Fund has the potential to transform our towns and villages forever. So I would urge all our partners in rural areas to work on putting forward proposals that can make a real difference.”

The Fund is seeking to support large-scale, ambitious projects. In that regard, applications of scale are sought, with a minimum funding request of €500,000.

Applications to the Fund must be led by a State-funded body —Local Authorities, Local Development Companies, State agencies, commercial State bodies etc.— but collaboration among parties, including with communities, is strongly encouraged.

The closing date for the receipt of proposals is 12 noon on April 29, 2022.

Photo of Youghal waterfront is by Will McGoldrick – McGoldrick Art & Photography via Wikipedia.

Learn more about the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.

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