Race is on in Laois to get funds for the revamped Town and Village Renewal grant scheme

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

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The gun has been fired on the race to become one of just eight projects in Laois that will get a share of more than €1 million that is potentially available for renewal projects.

In a change to the Town and Village Renewal Scheme, one project in Laois will get €500,000 toward the cost of a large project - more than double what the highest cost project would have got in previous years.

Another new element to the grants will see up to €50,000 allocated to kickstart a project.

The Government says one of the key aims of this year's fund will be tackling dereliction. It says the funding will also be available to turn vacant buildings in town centres into remote working hubs, enterprise spaces, cultural, tourism and community hubs.

Laois Offaly-based Green Party Senator and Minister of State Pippa Hackett has urged people to apply for the Town and Village Renewal Scheme which is worth €15 million nationally.

The scheme announced on bank holiday Monday by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, will see fund grants increase in size.

Minister Hackett called on Laois groups to get their applications in.

“The €15 million in funding announced today empowers local authorities to carry out projects in their area. They know best what the local communities and the local economy require. The increase in the grant from a maximum of €200,000 to a maximum of €500,000 enables them to be more ambitious.

"I have every confidence in Laois County Council to make applications and I’d encourage local groups and organisations to put ideas forward,” she said.

The measures that will be supported by the 2021 Town and Village Renewal Scheme include:

  • Tackling dereliction in town centres
  • Turning vacant properties into remote working and community spaces
  • Supporting Local Authorities to run innovative marketing campaigns targeted at attracting remote workers to their county.
  • Investing in green spaces, parks and recreational amenities
  • Upgrading and improving shop fronts & streetscapes on Main Streets
  • Projects that support and enhance the night time economy and add vibrancy to town centres.

The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is administered through the Local Authorities, who are required to work closely with local communities and local businesses to develop and implement proposals.

The previous maximum grant of €200,000.

Minister Humphreys spoke about the key aims of this year's sheme.

“The focus of this year’s scheme is to renovate derelict and vacant buildings in our town centres and give them a new purpose – whether it is for remote working, cultural or community use. I have increased the maximum grant to €500,000 this year so that projects of scale and ambition can be put forward.

“I also want to see Local Authorities engaging with local businesses and property owners on our main streets and putting forward collaborative projects to upgrade shop fronts and enhance our streetscapes. Support is also available for murals in our town centres, perhaps dedicated to local cultural or sporting personalities and events. This is all about adding colour and vibrancy to our towns and villages making them more attractive places to live, work in and visit.

“Most importantly, I want to seize the momentum around remote working and for that reason, I am supporting Local Authorities to run innovative marketing campaigns highlighting what their area has to offer in terms of remote working facilities as well as cultural and recreational amenities. This is about showcasing our rural towns and villages with the aim of attracting remote workers and the so-called ‘digital nomads’ to come and live in rural Ireland,” she said.

More about the scheme

The Town & Village Renewal Scheme provides funding for projects that make our towns and villages more attractive and sustainable. Since the launch of the Town and Village Renewal Scheme in 2016, almost €93 million has been allocated to more than 1,300 projects across Ireland. 

The scheme is administered through the Local Authorities, who are required to work closely with local communities and local businesses to develop and implement proposals that can make a lasting impact in revitalising rural towns and villages across the country. Applications for funding are submitted to the Department of Rural & Community Development through the Local Authorities. The closing date for the submission of applications is 16th July 2021.

Under the 2021 Scheme, grant funding of 90% of the total cost of a project will be provided for any individual project. The remaining 10% match funding must be contributed by the Local Authority and/or the community.

Each Local Authority is invited to submit up to oight applications of varying scale under the 2021 Scheme as follows:  

4 applications    funding  €20,000   to   €100,000
2 applications    funding  €20,000   to   €250,000
1 application      funding  €20,000   to   €500,000
1 application      funding up to €50,000 ( New Project Development Measure)

The 2021 Scheme will continue to support projects that respond to the new challenges associated with COVID-19 and support the economic and social recovery of our rural towns and villages.

New Project Development Measure:

For the 2021 Scheme a Project Development Measure has been introduced.  Under this Measure Local Authorities can apply for grant funding of up to 90% of development costs for one strategic large scale project that may be subsequently progressed with funding from the Town & Village Renewal Scheme e.g. detailed design, preparation for the planning and/or procurement, appropriate assessment etc. 

§  Funding of up to €50,000 at a 90% rate of aid

§  Maximum of one proposal to be submitted by any Local Authority

The priorities of the 2021 Town and Village Renewal Scheme are:

§  Projects that bring vacant and derelict buildings and sites back into use as multi-purpose spaces. E.G. Tourism, Cultural or Community Hubs

§  Projects that bring vacant properties in Town Centres back into use as Remote Working Hubs. This also includes funding for the repurposing of existing community or publicly owned buildings in town or village centres to facilitate remote working. 

§  Projects to support the upgrade and enhancement of shopfronts and street facades in towns and villages.

§  Projects to develop parks, green spaces and recreational amenities in town centres to make them vibrant hubs for community enjoyment, and to increase footfall for local businesses.

§  Marketing campaigns targeted at attracting remote workers and mobile talent to their county/region; and promotion of specific town/villages to attract new customers and/or business investment.

§  Projects that support and enhance the night-time economy in line with emerging recommendations from the Night-Time Economy Taskforce.

§  Regeneration projects that support active and vibrant town and village centres; these projects should be identified in town and village masterplans (or similar) developed in collaboration with the local community, businesses and the other relevant stakeholders in the town or village.

Full details of the scheme are available on gov.ie