€80m fund in place to improve town centres
Local authorities will be given an €80m fund to rejuvenate urban areas.
Housing and Planning Minister Paudie Coffey said local authorities would match EU funding of €40m to pay for improvements including new open spaces and pedestrianisation projects that would improve town centres.
Under the Designated Urban Centres Grant Scheme, capital projects to improve run-down areas will be funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and local authorities between now and 2020.
The funding will be used to prevent further urban sprawl, and consolidate and improve town centres.
"There is a strong correlation between healthy and vibrant urban centres and the creation of an attractive environment and enterprise development within the wider region," Mr Coffey said.
Among the sources of funding will include the proceeds of the vacant site levy, charged on landowners who fail to develop prime sites.
Projects that could apply for funding fall under two main headings - revitalisation of urban areas and sustainable urban transport.
They include physical enhancements to the streetscape, development of public or community open spaces, landscaping, demolition of derelict buildings and upgrades of historic buildings.
Pedestrianisation projects, installation of bus and cycle lanes, traffic reduction measures and improved walking access are also encouraged. The fund is open to community groups and local authorities.