€62 million in Government funding announced for 26 Rural Regeneration & Development projects

Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, has today (Wednesday, 6 November) announced 26 projects which will be allocated funding of €62 million under the second call for funding under the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, a key component of Project Ireland 2040.

The announcement took place in the Dunbrody Visitor Centre in New Ross, Co Wexford. The allocated funding of €62 million will be leveraged with a further €33 million in matched funding being provided by State-funded bodies, philanthropic sources and rural communities. This represents a total investment of €95 million in projects across every region which, in the years ahead, will deliver significant benefits for those living and working in rural towns and villages

Under Project Ireland 2040, the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development, will provide €1 billion in investment over 10 years to support the renewal of small towns, villages and outlying rural areas. Initial funding of €315 million is being allocated on a phased basis over the period 2019 to 2022. So far the Fund has provided €148 million for 110 projects across Ireland, worth a total of €212 million.

Today’s announcement relates to Category 1 of the Fund which focuses on strategic, large-scale projects which are ready to commence and which are focused on the regeneration of rural towns and villages.  The 26 projects being announced today deliver on that objective in a variety of different ways.

The successful applications for funding announced include:

  • The development of Wexfordia, a large scale regeneration and tourism project in the centre of New Ross that will enhance the town’s visitor potential through investment in key tourism assets including the Dunbrody Famine Ship & Irish Emigrant Experience and the town’s rich Norman heritage.
  • The delivery of Virginia Civic Centre, an ambitious and transformative town regeneration project in the centre of Virginia, Co. Cavan, involving the creation of a new public library, additional theatre space and multipurpose civic event facilities, both inside the Centre and in its grounds.
  • The development of a 46km stretch of the Barrow Blueway, located along the Grand Canal Barrow Line from Lowtown to Athy in Co. Kildare, taking in Vicarstown in Co. Laois.  The Blueway will be an exciting recreational resource for local communities and for visitors to the areas, with the potential to deliver significant tourism and economic benefits while also securing the natural amenities and ecosystem which the canal provides.
  • The restoration and upgrade of the Briery Gap Theatre and public library in the centre of Macroom, a valued cultural and artistic asset for the town and the wide hinterland which depends on it.
  • The Killybegs 2040 Town Regeneration Project a town centre regeneration project involving the redevelopment of an existing building to house a Tourism Information Centre and Digital Hub, with associated civic space, that will help enhance the physical, social and economic capacity of Killybegs.
  • The delivery of a suite of transformative regeneration measures in the town centre of Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim with the objectives of enhancing the quality of the existing streetscapes in the historic town centre and strengthening the town’s physical and commercial infrastructure, making it a more attractive place to work, live and do business.
  • The provision of a major tourism hub in Eachléim on the Erris Peninsula in the North Mayo Gaeltacht which will act as an orientation point for visitors to learn about the cultural and natural heritage attractions in the area, including Blacksod Lighthouse, and to provide tourism incubation space and support the development of craft enterprises.

Project Ireland 2040 – The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund

Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s overarching policy and planning framework for the social, economic and cultural development of Ireland. It includes a detailed capital investment plan for the next ten years, the National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2027, and the National Planning Framework which outlines the broader policy principles and priorities in planning for future population and economic growth to 2040.

Project Ireland 2040 established four new capital funds:

  • Urban Regeneration and Development Fund: €2bn (Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government)
  • Rural Regeneration and Development Fund: €1bn (Department of Rural & Community Development)
  • Disruptive Technologies Fund: €500m (Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation)
  • Climate Action Fund: €500m (Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment)

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund was established to deliver on the objective in the National Development Plan 2018-2027 of Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities and will be rolled out over a 10-year period.  The Fund is administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development. 

The Fund will provide investment to support suitable projects in towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000, and outlying areas which will deliver on the aims of Project Ireland 2040 and achieve sustainable economic and social development in these areas. Initial funding of €315 million has been allocated to the fund on a phased basis over the period 2019 to 2022

Under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, funding of €86 million was announced for 84 projects from the first call over two announcements in Sligo (November 2018) and Castlebayney (February 2019).

The lists of projects already announced can be found here.

The second call for applications to the Fund for Category 1 proposals (projects which are fully planning and consent ready) was launched in April 2019 and closed on 6 August 2019. 

The second call for proposals focused on Category 1 capital regeneration projects which are ready to commence. The Fund sets out to support collaborative projects in rural settlements of less than 10,000, with funding available of at least €500,000.  Applications to the Fund are on a competitive basis, with projects assessed in accordance with the appraisal scheme published in relation to the second call, overseen by the Project Advisory Board, made up of representatives from key Government Departments as well as independent experts.

As part of the second call, the appraisal scheme for applications awarded additional weight to the achievement of key policy priorities relating to building the resilience of communities to face the challenges posed by Brexit and assisting in the transition to a competitive, low carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy.

It is expected that a call for Category 2 applications – relating to projects which require funding to assist them to reach Category 1 status – will open by the end of the year.  A further call for Category 1 applications will take place in 2020.