Local authorities are to be given up to €400,000 each to renovate old convents, banks, post offices and cinemas under a new government scheme aimed at addressing the scourge of derelict buildings in rural towns and villages.
Rural councils are also being told to canvass the opinions of local community groups and activists on what buildings they would like to see renovated under the new €30m scheme.
The move will mean people will be able to put forward proposals for refurbishing derelict buildings in their communities which could then be renovated to become spaces for local activity.
The scheme will focus on buildings which have become eyesores in rural towns and villages and it is hoped the funding can be used to bring life into old buildings which were once cornerstones of the community.
The funding can be used to purchase and renovate old buildings which can become community centres or digital hubs for people working from home to avoid the daily commute to Dublin or other cities.
The funding can also be used to develop sites into parks, green spaces and recreational amenities.
And the State support will allow councils develop derelict sites and buildings into outdoors dining spaces or plazas in town centres.
However, councils are being encouraged by Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys to engage with local community groups, town teams and local chambers to identify the most suitable properties to be targeted with the funding.
The move will ensure there will be significant buy-in locally and communities will feel they are involved in the process of rejuvenating their local town or village.
Every local authority outside Dublin will be able to apply for the funding which can be used to buy and refurbish landmark buildings in rural communities which have lay derelict for a number of years.
Councils will be able to draw down a maximum of €400,000 which can be used to buy and renovate one building or split the money in half between two buildings.
The funding is being made available under the Town and Village Renewal Programme and aims to support the continued regeneration of our rural towns and villages.
The scheme typically funds communities with a population of up to 10,000 people.
Larger rural towns with a population of up to 15,000 people may be eligible if an application for funding is particularly strong and the project will have a significant impact on the area.
Minister Humphreys will launch the scheme today saying that the Government’s Rural Future initiative is aimed at regenerating rural towns and villages so they become attractive places to live.
“I am providing specific funding to local authorities this year to identify and purchase vacant and derelict buildings in rural towns and villages so that these can be taken into public ownership and converted for community use and the public good,” she said.
“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.
“There are former bank buildings which could easily be converted into remote working hubs,” she added.