The Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan, has welcomed the announcement of the 2022 Town and Village Renewal Scheme by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD.
Speaking on the announcement, the Cathaoirleach said: “Investment in our rural towns and villages is important if we are to make them vibrant and attractive places for people to live and work. Our priorities have shifted since the Covid-19 pandemic with more and more people working remotely in our rural towns and villages so it’s important that we have the infrastructure and facilities in place to support them.”
The Town and Village Renewal Scheme provides funding that aims to support the continued regeneration of rural towns and villages. This year’s scheme includes a new funding stream that will support local authorities to identify and purchase vacant and derelict buildings so that these can be taken into public ownership and be converted and developed for community use and the public good. Under the new Building Acquisition Measure up to €400,000 will be available per local authority in 2022. Local authorities are being encouraged to engage with communities to identify suitable properties and come up with a proposal for their future use and apply to the Department for the funding.
The Cathaoirleach encouraged community groups across County Clare to apply for funding under this year’s scheme, noting that “we want our towns to be attractive places where people want to live, work, socialise and raise a family”.
The measures that will be supported by the 2022 Town and Village Renewal Scheme include:
Tackling dereliction in town centres
Turning vacant properties into remote working and community spaces
Supporting local authorities to run innovative marketing campaigns targeted at attracting remote workers to their county
Investing in green spaces, parks and recreational amenities
Upgrading and improving shop fronts and streetscapes on Main Streets
Projects that support and enhance the night-time economy and add vibrancy to town centres.
The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is administered through the local authorities, who are required to work closely with local communities and local businesses to develop and implement proposals. Grants of €20,000 to €500,000 are available under the scheme.
Clare County Council’s Chief Executive, Pat Dowling, welcomed the scheme, saying that: “The pandemic created many challenges for our rural towns and villages but it also created many opportunities. The pandemic has given us a renewed appreciation for rural living and has created opportunities for remote and blended working arrangements. This scheme provides the means for continued investment in projects that will serve to improve quality of life for residents, attract new business, encourage visitors and ultimately provide an economic boost for the county.”
Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural Development, Clare County Council, said that “the focus on the renewal of our towns and villages and the continued promotion of the expansion of our remote working hubs creates opportunities to showcase the county’s towns and villages so that they are attractive places for remote workers to live and work”.
Community groups who have identified projects with all the necessary permissions in place are being invited to submit an Expression of Interest to Clare County Council. Expressions of Interest received will be assessed based on the priorities as contained in the Scheme Outline. A total of 9 proposals can then be put forward for submission to the Department of Rural and Community Development. Selection of projects under the scheme will be by means of a competitive process so Expressions of Interest should include sufficient detail to enable them to be considered for an application for funding to the Department.
More details on the scheme and an Expression of Interest Form can be downloaded from Council’s website.