In Ireland on August 23, 2021, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, announced that revitalization efforts in 124 towns and villages will benefit from a new €7 million ($8,217,937 USD) fund to support the renovation of streetscapes and shopfronts.
The Streetscape Enhancement Initiative is a key part of Our Rural Future and is designed to make our rural towns and villages more attractive places to live, work and visit. Of course, as documented in RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity, such beautification efforts can be effective tactics of a downtown revitalization strategy, but are seldom an effective strategy unto themselves.
Under the program, property owners will be provided with funding to improve the facades of their buildings, carry out artwork and install features such as canopies and street furniture.
The 124 towns and villages announced by the Minister today were selected by each local authority, which will now begin the process of advertising locally for applications.
The types of projects to be supported include:
- strategic collaboration between property owners to paint buildings or shopfronts in vibrant colors;
- commissioning of murals in towns and villages;
- upgrade or restoration of historic / traditional shopfronts;
- provision of street planting, shrubbery, trees and flowers boxes;
- illumination and lighting of architectural features;
- installation of canopies and street furniture; and
- decluttering of streetscapes with removal of unnecessary signs / wires.
Minister Humphreys encouraged business and property owners in any of the 124 towns and villages selected to contact their local authority for information on how to apply.
In announcing the 124 towns and villages, Minister Humphreys said, “This unique initiative is about making our rural towns and villages more attractive and welcoming places for locals and visitors alike.”
“Whether it’s painting buildings in vibrant colours, upgrading shop fronts or installing canopies or street furniture – this fund will provide a welcome boost to rural communities the length and breadth of the country,” she continued. “We all know that even the most modest of improvements to our buildings and streetscapes can make a huge difference. And so over the coming weeks, local authorities will work closely with businesses and property owners to give our towns and villages the facelift they deserve.”
The Minister added, “When I launched the Government’s new rural policy, ‘Our Rural Future’, I said I wanted to reimagine and revitalise rural communities. This initiative is a key part of realising that goal. I am really looking forward to seeing the sort of proposals that are put forward over the coming weeks.”
“If you are a business or property owner in any of the 124 towns and villages selected, I encourage you to contact your local authority for details on how to apply,” she concluded. “I have no doubt the projects funded this initiative will make a huge difference to our rural towns and villages and, most importantly, the families who live there.”