Rural communities can tap into €20m development fund

The Government has announced a €20m fund under its Action Plan for Rural Development aimed at supporting “measures which have a clear economic impact on rural towns and villages”, writes Joe Leogue.

The scheme will allow towns and villages with populations of fewer than 10,000 people apply to their local council for funding of between €20,000 and €100,000 for projects that foster partnerships between the community and local businesses.

Funding will also be available for art works in public spaces, while a higher maximum of €200,000 will be considered “for a limited number of projects where a strong case can be made demonstrating exceptionally strong economic benefit to a town and its outlying areas”.

The funding was announced by Rural Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys, and junior Minister for Regional Economic Development Michael Ring.

Speaking at an event in Westmeath yesterday, Ms Humphreys said successful applicants will display how their projects will fit with the Government’s other initiatives on rural development.

“This year’s scheme will place an emphasis on measures which have a clear economic impact on rural towns and villages,” she said.

“The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is part of a package of measures at national and local level to support the rejuvenation of towns and villages across Ireland, which also includes initiatives in areas such as heritage, tourism, arts and culture, the re-use of vacant premises, energy efficiency and business supports.

“Projects which demonstrate linkages with wider initiatives to increase the overall impact on town and village revival will be strongly encouraged,” Ms Humphreys said.

Designed to coincide with this initiative, the Framework for Town Centre Renewal will be published at the end of the month.

The Framework forms part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs and will be “a support document for towns and villages applying for funding under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme,” according to Enterprise Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

“The Framework for Town Centre Renewal sets out a practical step by step action plan for stakeholders to work collaboratively to enhance their local town or village,” she said.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald announced a new grant-aid scheme to assist community groups to assist the establishment of community-based CCTV systems.

Under the scheme, eligible community groups can apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up to a maximum grant of €40,000.

The Department of Justice said it intends to run the scheme for three years with funding of €1m being made available each year.

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.


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