Supporting rural towns and villages through a focused plan of action

The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is a key initiative under the Action Plan for Rural Development and forms part of a range of measures to support rural Ireland under the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 Rural Regeneration Programme.

Since the scheme was introduced in 2016, close to €53 million has been approved for more than 670 projects across the country.

These were the sentiments expressed by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, during Dáil proceedings last week after he was asked by deputy Martin Heydon (Fine Gael) if he would provide a report on the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and the Town and Village Pilot Residential Occupancy Scheme.

Minister Ring pointed out that he launched the renewal scheme on April 16 and the closing date for receipt of applications was June 28.

My officials will be assessing all of the applications received, and decisions on the applications will be made when the assessment process is completed.

He continued: “The Action Plan for Rural Development includes a commitment to develop a pilot scheme to encourage increased residential occupancy in rural towns and villages.

“I launched this initiative last October and announced that six towns have been invited to participate in the initial pilot.”

The six towns included in the pilot scheme are:
  • Boyle, Co. Roscommon;
  • Callan, Co. Kilkenny;
  • Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo;
  • Banagher, Co. Offaly;
  • Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan;
  • Cappoquin, Co. Waterford.

The minister, meanwhile, said funding of up to €100,000 each is being made available to the chosen towns in an effort to assist with the developing proposals to encourage town centre living.

“This funding is being used by the local authorities to engage with communities and local businesses to identify practical solutions to increase the number of people living in their town centres,” he added.

It is envisaged that the solutions they identify could lead to the development of more substantive proposals for funding from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in due course.

“The lessons learnt through this pilot initiative can help to inform our approach to supporting and investing in rural towns and villages in the future.

“I recently received interim progress reports from each of the relevant local authorities involved in the pilot scheme and anticipate receiving a comprehensive report in respect of the entire pilot initiative before the end of the year.”