Thursday, 15 October 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
148. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the date on which the towns first strategy will be published; if consultation will be involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30713/20]
While our towns and villages have shown remarkable resilience through recent crises, they require specific policy supports to ensure that they continue to function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live and work, to raise families, to act as the service, cultural and recreational hub for the surrounding areas, and to facilitate social and community interaction. The challenges they face include those associated with the provision of adequate employment opportunities, addressing vacant and derelict properties, the impact of online shopping on town-centre retail, and the general move away from town centre living and commercial activity.
In this context, the Programme for Government (PFG) has committed in outline to the development of a Town Centre First (TCF) policy. With a view to giving effect to this commitment and the actions outlined in the PFG, a TCF inter-Departmental Group (IDG) will be established to consider the regeneration of our towns and villages. Both my Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Islands are currently formulating this joint approach which will involve both the Terms of Reference for the IDG and an initial scoping of the policy proposal.
As outlined above, a TCF policy is at the very early stages of development which will require both a scoping of high-level objectives through the forum of the IDG with many strands to be considered including that of appropriate stakeholder engagement and public consultation.