Chairman of the Fine Gael Rural Affairs and Agriculture Committee Martin Heydon TD  has today (Friday) said that he is working with a number of his Fine Gael colleagues to push for regeneration incentives to be introduced to help to revitalise our regional market towns.

“As part of our Standing up for Rural Ireland campaign we are looking at the condition and prospects for regional towns which may be struggling due to changes in shopping behaviours, out of town shopping locations and lack of footfall.

“The Living Cities initiative is in place to support and encourage residential and commercial investment in the centre of 6 cities, Dublin Cork, Galway, Limerick Waterford and Kilkenny. We would like to see a similar scheme introduced for regional towns around the Country.

“Athy is a good example of a regional market town which would benefit from additional incentives for regeneration. I welcome recent initiatives by Athy Lions Club to research options for such work and I think Government proposals could enhance that. Towns like Athy, Kildare and Newbridge historically had much more residential accommodation in their centres, specifically above shops and business premises. As well as providing additional accommodation these residences ensured a living population in the centre of the town which boosted the trade for centre businesses and brought an energy to the centres even outside of business hours.

From Castledermot to Rathangan, derelict buildings on main streets are an issue. We are now pushing for measures to be taken in the next budget that will incentivise those owners to renovate their buildings and in the process revitalise their towns and villages.

“I am working with Deputies Helen McEntee, Michelle Mulherin, Marcella Corocran Kennedy and Brendan Griffin to research options for regional towns ahead of the budget in October