€30 million package to revitalise rural communities announced by Taoiseach

Tara Buckley, director general of RGDATA, has hit back at Lidl's accusations over planning applications
Tara Buckley, director general of RGDATA, has hit back at Lidl's accusations over planning applications

Latest programme welcome, but greater incentives needed to get people back living in town and village centres, says RGDATA

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29 September 2015 | 0

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RGDATA has given a guarded welcome to the government’s announcement that it will introduce a €30 million package, aimed at arresting the decline of town and village centres in Ireland.

The funds which will be dispersed over six years, have been made available to improve the attractiveness and sustainability of towns and villages. Local authorities will be able to apply to a central fund, administered by the Department of the Environment, for money to invest in their area.

RGDATA director general Tara Buckley said the association “is concerned that the measures announced today are really only tinkering with the symptoms of a significant problem and challenge that face communities across Ireland”.

While RGDATA believes that the €30m initiative should help with improving the public realm in some town and village centres which have seen significant dereliction in recent years, it believes “town regeneration will need a far more co-ordinated government intervention than merely an initiative which is fundamentally aimed at making towns look prettier”.

In its press statement, RGDATA said towns and villages “need a resident population to function and support real community living” and that “the government needs to prioritise measures that encourage and facilitate people moving back into town centres”. RGDATA added that “under the right conditions”, spare housing capacity “could be brought back into use with the right targeted incentive schemes”.

The government also needs to examine the role of local authorities in preventing town centre dereliction, RGDATA believes. Buckley said: “It is ironic that the management and administration of the latest town centre renewal and regeneration scheme is being handled by local authorities. The government needs to examine the role of local authorities in this area, particularly given that many of the planning decisions and parking policies of local authorities have been significant contributors to town centre dereliction in Ireland.”

The association added that any urban regeneration initiative which does not have the repopulation of our towns at its heart will make an insignificant contribution.

“There is an opportunity in the forthcoming budget for the government to introduce targeted and practical incentives to get people living in our towns and villages and to underpin regeneration in these areas. I hope that the Minister for Finance will seize this opportunity now and make a real difference to the health and vibrancy of Irish towns and villages,” Buckley said.

 

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