Written answers

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Department of Rural and Community Development

Vacant Properties

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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264. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development her plans to put measures in place to support the refurbishment of vacant property in rural areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23537/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The refurbishment of vacant properties is being tackled by a number of funding streams delivered by my Department, including through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF) and the Town & Village Renewal Scheme.

In April, I announced funding for 25 projects which were successful under a Category 1 call for applications to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. In total, the 25 successful projects under this call will receive funding of €81 million from the Fund and provide total investment in rural areas of just under €100 million. The main focus of the funding was on the regeneration of rural areas, including the redevelopment of vacant buildings in key locations. I will be announcing a call for Category 2 applications under the RRDF – relating to project development - in the coming weeks and a further call for Category 1 applications will be announced later in 2021.

On Monday 3rd May 2021 I announced funding of €15 million that will be available under the 2021 Town & Village Renewal Scheme. This funding aims to make our towns and villages more attractive places to live, work, socialise and raise a family. In line with Our Rural Future, the Government's rural policy, a key focus of this year’s scheme is to renovate derelict and vacant buildings in our town centres by re-purposing buildings for remote working or as cultural and community spaces.

The maximum grant available under the 2021 Scheme has been increased to €500,000 to permit projects of additional scale to be funded.

There are a range of other initiatives outlined in Our Rural Future which will contribute to addressing vacancy in our towns and villages. These will be delivered in partnership with my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and include a commitment to develop and deliver a Town Centre First approach to addressing the future development of our towns and villages. Addressing vacancy and dereliction will be a central focus of the Town Centre First approach.

Also, as part of Budget 2022, we will examine the scope to introduce new supports and incentives for the refurbishment of vacant properties to increase town centre living.


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