Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring has today announced that Ballinrobe is one of six rural towns which have been invited to develop innovative proposals to encourage more people to live in rural town centres.
Each of these towns will receive funding of €100,000 to develop their blueprints, engage with their communities and local businesses, and arrive at practical solutions that can be delivered to achieve the objective of increasing the number of people living in our rural towns.
Announcing the initiative today, Minister Ring said: “Our towns and villages are at the heart of our rural communities and should be places where people can live and raise their families in a high quality environment.
“This Pilot scheme will encourage Ballinrobe and five other rural towns to come up with solutions to the challenges they face and to exploit the potential they have, all with a view to encouraging people to move back in to them.
“We need to encourage more people to come and live in our towns to fully revitalise those towns centres, underpinned by vibrant communities.
“In January, a €1 billion Rural Regeneration Fund announced as part of Project Ireland 2040, will start providing funding to rural towns and villages with a population under 10,000. This Pilot Scheme can provide valuable lessons on how we could invest in our towns and villages through this Fund and other measures such as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.
“We can use the lessons learnt from this Pilot initiative to inform how we implement the €1 Rural Regeneration Fund which begins in January as well as the Town and Village Renewal Scheme and other initiatives.
“The reasons why more people do not live in town centres are many and complex. The availability of schools, public transport, recreational areas, public realm, a good retail mix, and social networks, all need to be part of the offering to encourage people to want to live in town centres.”
“Earlier this year, a Steering Group chaired by my Department was established to examine what would be the most effective way to encourage increased residential occupancy in our rural towns and villages. A lot of consideration has been given by the Steering Group to the best approach to deliver on this objective.”
“The consensus of the Steering Group was that the best way to proceed was through the development of a small number of well-planned pilot initiatives that could be delivered and scaled up quickly. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this issue. Every rural town has its own strengths, but also has issues that need to be addressed.”
“The approach which I have approved will allow a number of Local Authorities initially to develop and test different models which are appropriate to a number of selected towns with different characteristics and in different locations. The learnings from this approach will help to provide an indication as to what might work well for similar types of town on a wider scale.”