Minister Humphreys announces plans to invest more than €28m in towns, villages and rural recreation projects in 2017

The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (Tuesday) announced that her Department will invest more than €28 million in towns, villages and rural recreation projects in 2017, as part of the Action Plan for Rural Development.

At least 200 towns and villages will benefit from the funding, which should help to unlock and leverage further investment in these areas. A further 100 projects will benefit from rural recreation funding, which will help to attract additional visitors to rural areas, as set out in the Action Plan. A variety of schemes will be opened in the coming months to directly benefit rural communities and heritage projects nationwide.

The following schemes will inject funding into rural Ireland throughout 2017:

  • €12 million Town and Village Renewal Scheme
  • €5 million CLÁR Programme
  • €2.8 million built heritage investment schemes
  • €1.3 million Heritage Council schemes
  • €7 million in support for rural recreation projects

Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:

“I am prioritising the revitalisation of rural towns and villages through the Action Plan for Rural Development. If we are serious about rural regeneration, we must start with our rural towns. The schemes which will be co-run by my Department, Local Authorities and the Heritage Council this year will provide direct funding to rural towns and villages to improve public areas, invest in heritage buildings and support innovative local projects.

“Our towns and villages are the heart of our rural communities, but many of them are still recovering from the economic downturn. By improving the appearance and public amenities in our town and village centres, we can help to make them more attractive places in which to work, to live and to visit.

“I am taking a community-led approach to rural development. My Department will be working very closely with Local Authorities in the coming months to identify projects which will have a positive impact on rural towns and villages. Investing in heritage buildings forms an important element of my plan, because well maintained and actively used historic buildings contribute positively to the vitality of our towns and villages.

“Under the Action Plan, we want to increase the number of visitors to rural areas by 12%. Making our towns and villages more attractive places to visit will be a very important part of that plan and so too is supporting and encouraging rural reaction. That is why my colleague, Michael Ring TD, Minister for Regional Economic Development, will be providing €7 million in support for rural recreation projects in 2017. Minister Ring will also administer the CLÁR programme, which provides funding for small infrastructure projects in rural areas.

“I will also be working with my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, in the coming months to introduce a range of initiatives which will encourage more people to live in rural towns and villages. In addition, €40 million provided under the LEADER programme will support up to 1,000 community-led projects in rural areas. Through this co-ordinated approach, we will help to breathe fresh life back in rural communities nationwide.” 

Speaking today CEO of the Heritage Council, Michael Starret said:

“The potential offered by heritage led regeneration in rural Ireland is immense and the Heritage Council looks forward to expanding its partnership with Local Authorities through these initiatives.  The Heritage Officer Network will play a key part as will an expanded network for towns and villages and a new one for Irish Uplands.  The Minister is to be congratulated for affording us this opportunity.”


Notes to Editor:
Each of the schemes listed above will be open for applications on a phased basis in the coming months. Most of the funding will be delivered in collaboration with Local Authorities.

Further details on each scheme are available here:

  • €12 million Town and Village Renewal Scheme. The 2016 scheme benefited 170 towns and villages nationwide. Town and villages will be prioritised by local authorities and projects will be assessed by Minister Humphreys’ Department. Example of projects which benefited last year included improvements to playgrounds and footpaths, tourism amenities, public art pieces and a wide range of works to improve the streetscape and public realm of towns and villages. The Town and Village Renewal Scheme is expected to be opened for applications in Q1 2017.
  • The €2 million Built Heritage Investment Scheme 2017 and the Structures at Risk Fund 2017 (€0.824M) will be delivered by Minister Humphreys’ Department through the Local Authorities. It is expected over 330 capital projects will benefit under these two schemes in 2017. These schemes in 2016 supported a significant number of projects across the country and helped provide employment in the conservation and construction industries. Both schemes will be open for applications in February 2017 directly from the relevant Local Authorities.
  • The Heritage Council will be administering a Heritage and Community Grants Programme 2017 of €0.7 million to be advertised in March along with a dedicated historic towns programme of €0.6 million to develop and expand the on-going work of the Department’s Historic Towns Initiative and the Irish Walled Towns Network.   The latter scheme is expected to be available from April. Both schemes can be applied for directly from the Heritage Council.  The Heritage Council will also expand its rural programme in 2017 with the development of a series of Irish Upland Partnerships involving initial investment of €0.1 million.
  • €5 million CLÁR Programme was reopened for applications by Minister Ring for the first time in 8 years last year. Under the 2016 Scheme, more than 600 projects benefitted. It is expected the 2017 scheme will open for applications in Q1 2017.
  • At least €7 million will be invested in rural recreation projects in 2017. In 2016, more than 120 rural recreation projects benefitted from funding under the scheme which was announced by Minister Ring. It is expected that the scheme will open for applications by Q1 2017.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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