Isn’t it a shame the way so many buildings in town centres are lying idle?
Some of them are heritage buildings and many of them could be turned into homes. We are, after all, in a housing crisis. The Green Party’s policy of developing town centres, before going out of town, has now been adopted as a government strategy.
The idea is to support local communities to bring life and vibrancy into towns across the country
As my colleague Minister Malcolm Noonan said at the launch of the strategy: “Architecturally, culturally and socially, the Irish town is unique in European terms. For far too long, we have turned our backs on this important heritage.”
This policy sets out a number of ways in which local communities will be empowered to come up with their own plans to bring life back to their towns. What we’ll see is structures being established and supported at local level, with funding to be provided by central government.
This approach gives us an opportunity to shape the future of our towns, and to influence decision-making on matters like heritage, our public realm, how we plan the towns going forward, how we tackle issues like vacancy and dereliction.
At the Local Level
I’m delighted to see that Town Regeneration Officers will be appointed to County Councils to help train and support a ‘Town Team’. These teams will be made up of local stakeholders such as residents, businesses and community groups, to develop a ‘Town Centre First Plan’. Local authority staff will be on hand to support this work.
“The ‘one-stop-shop approach in Local Authorities will make it easy for businesses and residents to access supports for building adaptations and renovations, and much like Tidy Towns, the awards programme for Town Teams will really help to incentivise people to get on board.”
A Town Centre First approach revitalises and regenerates towns by bringing vacant and derelict buildings back into use and creating new opportunities for unused lands that will encourage more people to live and work within our rural towns and villages.
In addition to quality housing and job opportunities, this approach also ensures that good transport links, safe and accessible public spaces, and climate resilience is at the heart of how we plan our towns.
From a Green perspective, this also empowers the community to put climate action, sustainable mobility, and regeneration of our public and green spaces at the heart of our Town Centres First plan. With the launch of this policy, the Greens in government are delivering on a key Programme for Government commitment to develop a Town Centre First policy, modelled on the scheme developed by the Scottish Government, and informed by the Town Centre Living Initiative pilot project.
Read the official PRESS RELEASE for more details on gov.ie