New Town Centre First policy aims to revive Ireland’s towns
The new policy outlines 33 measures designed to make towns attractive places in which to live, work, visit and run a business.
It aims to aid job creation, refurbish vacant buildings to increase housing supply in towns, develop bespoke transport plans, retrofit houses to be more climate-friendly, and conserve heritage sites.
Participating towns will have town regeneration officers which will lead engagement with town stakeholders to help facilitate the Town Centre First process.
Funding for Town Centre First projects will come from existing schemes such as the rural regeneration and development fund (RRDF), urban regeneration and development fund (URDF), Housing for All’s forthcoming Croí Cónaithe Fund, and the town and village renewal scheme.
Darragh O’Brien, the housing minster; Peter Burke, the planning and local government minister and Malcom Noonan, the heritage and electoral reform minister,all support the new policy, but Independent TD Sean Canney said that as the funding streams are already in existence, there is nothing new in the policy.
The urban and rural regeneration funds support urban regeneration in towns with a population of over 10,000 and have approved €410m in funding for projects in towns which will be completed over the next few years.
A funding call for new projects to local authorities will be made in the summer, which will be specifically aimed at Town Centre First Implementation as one of its key objectives.
During the pandemic, more significance was put on local areas and remote working.
“As a result of travel restrictions and home working, many people have rediscovered the value and convenience of shopping locally, and the importance of local towns and villages for social and cultural engagement,” said the Town Centre First Report.
“Remote working will also allow many workers to spend less time commuting and more time living in their own communities,” it said.