New fund has potential to revitalise towns and villages
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, today welcomed the Government announcement of a new €30 million fund to aid the regeneration of regional towns and villages.
The funding, which is part of the Capital Spending Plan, will be used to revitalise the “attractiveness and sustainability” of towns and villages.
In Retail Ireland’s budget submission the group proposed a competitive tendering process, open to towns and cities around the country, to access regeneration funding. This funding could, for example, support the appointment of a Town Centre Manager with responsibility for the development of commercial centres. Such an initiative could be run in conjunction with the roll out of a Town Centre Strategic Development Plan, as proposed by a sub-group of the Retail Consultation Forum, Chaired by Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Ged Nash.
Commenting on the announcement Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said: “Today’s announcement is a very positive first step towards the revitalisation of Ireland’s rural towns and villages. Outside of construction, the retail sector was the worst hit by the recession with sales falling by a staggering 24% from the peak. While the recovery is gaining momentum in major urban centres, many regional towns and villages are still struggling with a lack of consumer spending and empty retail units on the main street. Urgent investment is needed to make them more attractive places for consumers and businesses alike, and ensure they are not left behind by the recovery.”