Written answers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Vacant Properties

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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83. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his plans to put measures in place to support the refurbishment of vacant property in towns and villages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23536/21]

Photo of Peter BurkePeter Burke (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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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.

In this context, the Programme for Government (PFG) committed 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) was established in November 2020 to consider the regeneration of our towns and villages. The IDG is jointly chaired by my Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development.

In parallel, a Town Centre First Advisory Group was also established to enable the experiences of a broader group of stakeholders to be brought to bear in informing the process of policy development, and will support the work of the IDG. Following the initial development stages through the forum of the IDG and Advisory Group, four key pillar areas are now in development as part of a TCF framework, via the support of dedicated working groups tasked with addressing the following:

- Governance & Enabling Structures;

- Economic & Social Purpose;

- Living Towns Approach;

- Investment & Resources.

Work has progressed well and draft working group papers are currently being developed for discussion, initially with the IDG, in the coming weeks.

There is general consensus among all the groups that there is no one solution or issue that can or should be addressed in isolation but rather that a TCF framework should be holistic and capable of being tailored to address the individual needs, size and characteristics of a town. Until such time as this work is further progressed and measures developed and agreed, it would be premature to comment on the specific matters raised.

The aim is that the Inter-Departmental Group will provide recommendations for consideration by Government in June. It is envisaged that recommendations will cover the short, medium and longer-term out to 2040, to align with Project Ireland 2040.


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