Thursday, 17 December 2020
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Rural Regeneration and Development Fund
8. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development if Charleville, County Cork will receive funding for local developments under the rural development fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43810/20]
I wish to ask the Minister about the rural development fund. An application has been submitted by the county council and the local community for development in Charleville in County Cork. Will she make statement on the matter?
I thank Deputy Moynihan for raising this matter. The rural regeneration and development fund established under the national development plan and managed by my Department supports large-scale investment in projects which can deliver sustainable economic and social development in rural areas.
To date, 63 category 1 projects have been approved for funding of €131 million and 76 category 2 projects for funding of €35 million. Category 1 relates to major capital projects ready to enter procurement, while category 2 supports projects that require development funding to bring them to category 1 readiness. Rural towns and villages across the country are benefiting from this fund. The third call for category 1 applications closed on 1 December and I am pleased my Department received 66 applications.
I understand an application was received from the Charleville town centre integrated regeneration plan project, which is led by Cork County Council. The application process for the fund is competitive in nature. Applications will now be assessed by my Department under the oversight of a project advisory board. This independent board comprises representatives from key Departments as well as independent experts.
On completion of this process, my Department will prepare a report setting out recommended projects. My role as Minister will be to consider that report and make final decisions regarding the allocation of funding. I am informed the process should take approximately three months to complete.
This is an innovative application for Charleville town centre. It comprises the existing plaza and connectivity with the town park to make it accessible to all generations of people, not just the young. A fantastic playground has been developed over many years and it has been refurbished in recent years. There is therefore much going on in Charleville.
This project is aimed predominantly at bringing life back into the town centre. It is on the M20 and, of course, we hope the road will go ahead to give breathing space to Charleville. The most important thing, however, is that there are a number of aspects to this application. It is predominantly to energise Charleville town centre. I know my colleague, Councillor Ian Doyle, has been working hard to bring this project to application stage in the county council. I understand this is competitive in nature but I ask that every possible assessment be done in respect of this application to ensure we can deliver and bring life back to Charleville town.
I know the Deputy is committed to this project. He has told me this fits the criteria because he and the project promoters are trying to breathe life back into and energise the town centre. We want to support innovative projects like that which make a difference and make a change.
In fairness, Cork North-West has a good record in terms of submitting applications. The Kanturk regeneration phase 1 project received funding of €743,400 from the second call for category 1 applications. I had the pleasure of visiting Banteer, whose amenity project was approved for funding of €1.3 million from the first call of category 1 applications. Briary Gap theatre and the library in Macroom, which I also visited when I was Minister with responsibility for arts, got funding of €2 million from the second call of category 1 projects. Cork North-West has a good track record in these applications and all the projects are assessed by an independent panel. I take on board the good points the Deputy is making, however.
I can assure the Minister that if this project is successful, we will invite her to visit it and to look at the way it will re-energise Charleville town. It is a retail and commercial town with a huge amount of employment; it is a great town. It needs this to expand and develop it further, however. Councillor Doyle has been working closely with the county council to get it this far so we hope it will be taken a step further. I can assure the Minister that if we are able to deliver this through the Department, she will get to see it either on completion are during the completion stage.
I look forward to going back to County Cork at some stage. I would love to go back to see how they are getting on with that Banteer project. It was quite an amazing project they put forward. They had wonderful plans for the area and I had a lovely day there.
As I said, the Charleville project mentioned by the Deputy will be assessed by an independent panel of experts. I have no doubt that a good application has been submitted. In any of these projects, it is important there is a collaborative effort between the local authorities, project promoters and communities to make sure they put their best forward and show what a difference it will make. From listening to the Deputy, I am sure it will make a difference to the town. I cannot make a promise to the Deputy but I know all the applications will be looked at carefully.