Ministers Humphreys and O’Donnell launch Ireland’s first ever Town Centre First Plans

  • Town Centre First Limerick

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell TD have today published the first ever Town Centre First plans for 26 towns across every county.

The Plans which were developed in consultation with local communities represent the vision of local people for their area and contain proposals for a diverse range of projects such as redeveloping derelict sites, creating community parks and walkways, boosting SME and tourism potential, and protecting historical landmarks.

The Ministers were joined at the Launch by the new Town Regeneration Officers who have been appointed in every Local Authority to drive implementation of the new plans with the support of Government funding through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant, European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Town Centre First Heritage Revival (THRIVE) Scheme and the Historic Towns Initiative.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, said:

"Communities are at the heart of rural Ireland. Town Centre First is all about empowering people to develop a vision for their town that can make it a better place to live, work, invest in and enjoy. These Plans and the new Town Regeneration Officers are about ensuring there is a strategic and coherent approach at local level to tackling vacancy and dereliction in our towns and villages.

Government is firmly committed to strategic projects that will transform rural Ireland such as under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, and we are already seeing the hugely positive impacts of investment right across the country such as the fantastic new Community Centre we are opening here in Patrickswell this morning."

Minister Humphreys also announced the next 26 Towns who have been approved to develop Town Centre First Plans:

“I am delighted to publish the first ever Town Centre First Plans today and I want to commend the local Communities and Town Teams for their work in developing these comprehensive locally-led plans.

“I am pleased to also announce the next 26 successful towns across the country who we will support with funding of €30,000 each to complete a comprehensive town plan to help develop their town centres.”

Town Centre First supports the objectives of the national rural development policy, Our Rural Future, in revitalising rural towns and engages communities through “Town Teams”. Every town is different, and so local visions take account of these unique challenges, needs and opportunities.

Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O'Donnell, said:

“It is a pleasure to launch the inaugural Town Centre First Plans today here in Limerick. This Government has committed to multi-billion euro investment in regenerating and revitalising towns and urban centres across Ireland. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is supporting the delivery of the Town Centre First policy approach through major funding schemes such as the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, the Croí Cónaithe Fund and Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant and the ERDF supported THRIVE Fund.

“The Town Centre First approach empowers local communities and businesses, supported by Local Authorities, to guide and direct investment to maximise the particular strengths and assets of their town.”

“In a joint initiative, my Department along with DRCD has established a National Town Centre First Office, within the LGMA, to support delivery of the policy.

“I also wish to congratulate and commend all the local communities and Town Teams for their dedicated work in designing these exciting Town Centre First plans – I look forward to seeing them fully implemented in the time ahead."

Town Centre First also supports the objectives of the National Planning Framework and Housing for All by unlocking the potential of vacant and underused buildings to increase housing supply and attract more people to live and work in our town centres. 

TCF National co-ordinator, Mairéad Hunt, noted that towns now have a unique opportunity to participate in Town Centre First and create more vibrant and attractive town centres.

She continued: 

Our Town Teams are doing fantastic work around the country creating and driving forward ambitious plans. We want to see many more Town Teams, so it is very welcome that the Department of Rural and Community Development is giving local authorities funding of up to €10,000 to establish new Town Teams or build up existing teams.

Today we have also launched a new Town Centre First website where people can find out how to get involved.”

Launched in 2022, Town Centre First is driving one of the biggest ever programme of investments in rural Ireland and has a core aim of confronting dereliction and the general decline in the health of Ireland’s town centres.

To find out more about the initiative and how communities can become involved, visit www.towncentrefirst.ie

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