Funding is being made available to allow local authorities buy vacant buildings to be converted and developed for community use, it has been announced.
Up to €400,000 will be available to each local authority to spend in 2022.
The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, announced the new funding stream on Friday to support local authorities.
The funding, which is being made available under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, aims to support the continued regeneration of our rural towns and villages so that they are attractive, vibrant places for people to live and work.
The scale of vacant buildings is set to be revealed in the latest CSO population census undertaken in recent months with anecdotal evidence of a large amount of vacant properties in towns across the country.
Announcing the launch of the scheme, Minister Humphreys said: “Our Rural Future, the Government’s ambitious policy for rural development, prioritises the regeneration and repopulation of our rural towns and villages – we want our towns to be attractive places where people want to live, work, socialise and raise a family.
“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.
“Under the new Building Acquisition Measure up to €400,000 will be available per local authority this year. 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. Equally we know there are many community groups and voluntary organisations who need a space for local events and activities so let’s renovate and repurpose some of our old town centre buildings to accommodate them," Minister Humphreys said.
Priority will be afforded to projects that align with the objectives of “Our Rural Future” with a focus on:
· Purchase of vacant properties/sites for community use
· Enabling vacant and derelict buildings to be repurposed as community spaces / digital hubs
· Developing vacant sites in towns and villages into parks, green spaces and recreational amenities
· Development of Outdoor Dining Spaces/Plazas in town centres
The Scheme typically funds rural towns and villages with a population of up to 10,000 people.
Larger rural towns with a population of up to 15,000 people may be eligible where the application is particularly strong and the project will have a significant impact on the town in question.
Full details of the Scheme will be published on the Department’s website in the coming days.
The announcement on May 27 forms part of the Our Rural Future Work Programme for 2022, which continues the focus on the renewal of our towns and villages and the continued expansion of our remote working hubs under the ConnectedHubs.ie platform.
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