200 rural towns to share in €10m renewal fund
Up to 200 towns and villages are to be offered grants totalling €10m to support the revitalisation of rural Ireland.
Rural Development Minister Heather Humphreys will tomorrow announce details of the scheme, which is to place a particular focus on towns with populations of less than 5,000.
An allocation of €380,000 is to be made available to each of the 26 counties.
A maximum of eight separate projects in each county can receive a grant from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs from September.
The criteria for funding under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme states that the project must have a "sustainable and visible impact".
"Ireland's towns and villages are at the heart of our rural communities. They are a key focus of activity for those who live and work in rural Ireland," Ms Humphreys said.
"The economic downturn had a significant impact on many of our rural towns and villages and it is important that we support them to achieve a recovery."
The type of projects funded under the scheme could include measures to:
- Increase the attractiveness of the town or village as a local commercial and social centre, and increase its sustainability as a place in which to live and work;
- Enhance its environment and amenity in the interests of residents, businesses and visitors;
- Enhance the culture and local heritage assets of the town/village and promote tourism;
- Tackle minor physical infrastructural deficits and land assembly issues.
"The central objective of the Town and Village Renewal Scheme is to revitalise rural towns and villages and establish them as hubs of social and commercial activity which make them attractive for both local communities and visitors," the minister said.
The Government had originally set aside €4m for the scheme. However, the decline of rural Ireland formed a central part of the General Election debate, resulting in the creation of Ms Humphrey's wide-ranging portfolio.
An extra €6m will be confirmed in tomorrow's announcement.
"The people who live and work in our towns and villages are best placed to offer ideas to support the sustainable development of their own areas," Ms Humphrey said.
She added that the success of the scheme will rely on collaboration between communities, local businesses and local authorities in identifying and implementing projects that can make a real and lasting impact in revitalising rural towns.