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24 May 2022

'Town Centre First' policy to breathe new life into town centres across Kilkenny

New Policy to deliver on the objectives of ‘Housing for All’ and ‘Our Rural Future’

Government launches first ever Town Centre First policy

This new major new policy aims to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into our town centres

The Government has today published Town Centre First – a new policy that aims to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into town centres across County Kilkenny.

Town Centre First contains 33 unique actions which will give our towns the tools and resources they need to become more viable and attractive places in which to live, work, visit and run a business. The policy is underpinned by multi-billion euro investment spread across major Government schemes such as the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF), the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), Croí Conaithe (Towns) Fund and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

For the first time, designated towns will gain their own dedicated Town Regeneration Officers, who will be crucial to driving future development. The policy also contains a range of actions designed to achieve key objectives such as social and economic revival in towns, the provision of housing, as well as addressing challenges like vacancy and derelict buildings.

The actions also support the protection of our environment, as well as the heritage and culture of our towns.

Town Centre First was launched in Moate today by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, the Minister for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke TD; and the Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD.

The policy was launched at Moate library, a former Courthouse building. The formerly derelict building, dating back to 1828, was converted by Westmeath County Council.

The library was officially opened in 2016 and is a vital resource for young and old, bringing people back into the town centre.

Town Centre First, which supports the objectives of Housing for All and Our Rural Future, is a commitment under the Programme for Government.

In December 2021, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, announced €100,000 in funding for Kilkenny County Council to support the development of a Town Centre First Plan for Urlingford. Towns for this first phase of funding were selected based on submissions received from the local authorities. Further funding phases for Town Centre First Plans will be announced in due course.

Announcing Town Centre First, The Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD said:

“‘Town Centre First’ represents a new approach to revitalising communities the length and breadth of this country.

“This is about bringing together our businesses, our local authorities and our town teams - so that they are at the fore when it comes to planning for the future development of their communities.

“It’s about ensuring our towns have the tools, resources and investment they need to tackle major issues such as dereliction and vacant properties.

“We know that so many of our towns, particularly in rural Ireland, face considerable challenges.

“But they also have extraordinary potential.

“With investment under the likes of the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, we will ensure our towns become even better places to live, work and raise a family.

“’Town Centre First’ will arm our towns with the ability to map out and deliver on their own unique vision, helping to revitalise Rural Ireland and deliver on the objectives of ‘Our Rural Future’.

“Architecturally, culturally and socially, the Irish town is unique in European terms.

“For far too long, we have turned our backs on this important heritage. The Government’s Town Centres First policy seeks to support, enable and inspire communities to be active participants in the heritage-led regeneration of their towns and villages.

“This in turn will re-invigorate independent retail and promote town centre living, supporting local economic resilience through the co-creation of liveable, vibrant, nature-friendly urban spaces.”

The Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, added:

“Architecturally, culturally and socially, the Irish town is unique in European terms.

“For far too long, we have turned our backs on this important heritage. The Government’s Town Centres First policy seeks to support, enable and inspire communities to be active participants in the heritage-led regeneration of their towns and villages.

“This in turn will re-invigorate independent retail and promote town centre living, supporting local economic resilience through the co-creation of liveable, vibrant, nature-friendly urban spaces.”

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