Targeted funding for the regeneration of towns and to support above-shop and town centre living

A new ‘Town Centre First’ policy, will revitalise towns across County Kildare and benefit local communities, Fine Gael Kildare South TD and Minister of State Martin Heydon has said.

Minister Heydon said: “Fine Gael is working to create stronger safer communities and this new ‘Town Centre First’ policy is crucial to that. It is designed to support the regeneration of our towns and villages with targeted funding to support above-shop and town centre living.

“This ambitious and far-reaching policy contains a range of measures and funding supports aimed at making towns in County Kildare more viable and attractive places in which to live, work and visit, whilst ensuring they are social, cultural and services hubs for the local community.

“The ‘Town Centres First’ policy contains a major new strategy to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into town centres. This has been a key priority for Fine Gael and something on which we have been working hard. A recent policy paper by my colleagues Deputy Emer Higgins and Senator John Cummins put forward 26 proposals for consideration, which could enhance by over 10,000 the number of vacant homes becoming available for early use.

“This major new policy is going to be a game changer for County Kildare with local communities and local businesses central to reimagining and planning their own futures through a tailored plan. Our towns will benefit from Government funding, which will emphasise the importance of town centres as the central hub of our communities.

“It is really important that this ambitious programme be backed up by significant Government funding.

“It is underpinned by multi-billion-euro investment spread across major Government schemes such as the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF), the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), Crói Conaithe (Towns) Fund and the Town and Village Renewal Scheme.  Last year, over €410 million was distributed nationwide under the URDF and I understand a new call will be opened shortly, focused specifically on support for our town centres in places like County Kildare.

“For the first time, towns will also gain their own dedicated Town Regeneration Officers, who will be crucial to driving future development.   They will be full-time dedicated positions within Kildare County Council working with Town Teams and local business groups to design and implement town plans.  They will also work to identify derelict buildings and assist in bringing them back into use, a key objective of the Town Centre First policy,” Minister Heydon said.

“We know that many of our town centres are underutilised for housing and have limited housing choice despite being close to all amenities and public services.  We are determined to act on this and ensure that we tackle dereliction by providing new and much needed housing supply within our town boundaries” concluded Minister Heydon