SKIBBEREEN town is to benefit from a €100,000 funding grant as part of the Town Centre First Plans unveiled by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys.
Overall funding of €2.6 million is being made available under the initiative to support 26 towns in mapping out their future development.
As part of the project, each local authority will be provided with €100,000 to support the development of its own unique master plan, with the funding in Cork county to be spent on developing a plan for Skibbereen.
The Town Centre First Plans will have a specific focus on tackling dereliction, vacant properties and making town centres more attractive places to live, work, socialise and run a business. The initiative also seeks to help re-imagine and revitalise rural communities.
Local authorities will work closely with local community groups, retailers and the other members of 'Town Teams', involving community, business, as well as public private stakeholders, in devising and delivering on the objectives of their respective masterplans.
Skibbereen-based councillor Karen Coakley welcomed the ‘fantastic’ news for the town.
“It is absolutely fantastic and positive news for the town. It gives the local authority the opportunity to work with the local community groups who have been anxious to get many projects completed. It is a great boost for the town and the various groups. It is a good news story to end the year with.”
Councillor Joe Carroll said the news will help get life back into towns again.
“It is good and welcome news. Everybody wants to revitalise the centre of towns and to do that we have to make them more attractive. We have to get rid of dereliction if possible. It will help get life back into towns again.”
Minister Humphreys said the funding is about ensuring our towns have the right plan in place to tackle the issues of dereliction, vacant properties, and above all, to become better places to live, work and run a business.
“Our rural towns and villages play a central role in the lives of people in rural areas. They are where we live, work, shop and socialise. It is important that we ensure our towns and villages remain vibrant, vital and relevant places. Each town selected as part of this initiative will have its own strengths and each will face different challenges as it maps out its future path. The plans will be developed in tandem with Town Teams that are representative of the local towns and who can bring a wealth of knowledge and local expertise.”
The Town Centre First Plans will be guided by a strong empirical base and developed collaboratively with local Town Teams involving the community, business, as well as public-private stakeholders.
It is envisaged that the plans will cover the importance of place-making, town-centre living, the social and economic purpose of the town, and respond to emerging opportunities such as those linked to remote working, climate action and digitalisation.
The focus will be on the town centre and immediate surroundings. Each Plan will set out specific actions and interventions and help unlock national funding streams such as the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and the Town & Village Renewal Scheme to resource delivery of these interventions.