A new funding stream has been announced to allow local authorities to purchase vacant and derelict buildings in rural towns and villages.

The funding was announced today (Friday, May 27) by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys, as part of ‘Our Rural Future’, the government programme for rural development.

The new funding will allow county councils purchase these buildings for the purpose of converting them for community use.

The funding comes under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, which Minister Humphreys said aims to support the regeneration of rural towns and villages “so that they are attractive, vibrant places for people to live and work in”.

“I am providing specific funding to local authorities this year to identify and purchase vacant buildings in rural towns and villages so that these can be taken into the public ownership and converted for community use and the public good,” she added.

The new funding – called the Building Acquisition Measure – will make up €400,000 available to each county council this year.

“I am encouraging local authorities to engage with communities, identify suitable properties, come up with a proposal for their future use and apply to my department for the funding,” Minister Humphreys commented.

“There are former bank buildings which could easily be converted into remote working hubs. Equally, we know there are many community groups and voluntary organisations who need a space for local events and activities.”

The scheme will be directed at vacant or derelict buildings in towns or villages with populations of up to 10,000.

Larger rural towns with populations up to 15,000 may also be eligible where the application is particularly strong and the project will have a significant impact on the town in question.

Each local authority can use the funding to purchase up to two buildings within the €400,000 available.