Written answers

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Department of Rural and Community Development

Vacant Properties

Photo of Joe CareyJoe Carey (Clare, Fine Gael)
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850. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development when the supports available from her Department to ensure that vacant buildings such as former banks in rural towns and villages in County Clare can be acquired and renovated for community use; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27847/22]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The Government recently published Town Centre First - A Policy Approach for Irish Towns.  This represents a whole of Government policy and aims to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into our town centres.  The publication of Town Centre First was  a key deliverable under Our Rural Future.

The Town Centre First policy is underpinned by significant levels of public investment spread across major Government schemes such as the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund , the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, the Croí Conaithe (Towns) Fund and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.

In February of this year I announced €18.5m in funding for successful projects under the 2021 Town and Village Renewal Scheme, which included a wide range of projects bringing vacant buildings back into community use.   I have recently launched the 2022 Town and Village Renewal scheme, and the scheme is again prioritising projects that bring vacant and derelict buildings back into use as multi purpose community spaces. It also includes a new Building Acquisition Measure to support local authorities to purchase vacant and derelict buildings in 2022 for future development as community facilities.  

Similarly, the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund has now provided funding for 191 projects across the country, many of which include the repurposing of buildings in communities. The fourth call for Category 1 application closed on the 29th April 2022.  Category One projects are those that have full planning and other consents in place and are ready to commence at the date of application. Projects funded under this call will assist in revitalising our rural towns and villages through planned, sustainable regeneration and development including addressing vacancy and the re-use of heritage and other existing buildings. 

I have also recently introduced a new capital fund of €15 million which will provide funding for the improvement and refurbishment of existing community centres across the country. The focus of the Community Centre Investment Fund is to improve, refurbish and revitalise existing centres.

I am committed to ensuring that my Department continues to support the use of vacant buildings for community purposes across rural Ireland, in line with the objectives of Our Rural Future. 


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