The government has recently published its Town Centre’s First policy, this policy represents a new approach to the development
A joint Governmental Policy has been launched by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and the Department of Rural and Community Development.
The Town Centre First policy works in tandem with Our Rural Future to support the regeneration and development of rural towns and villages by helping them contribute to local and national economic recovery, and to enable people to live and work in a vibrant environment. Town Centre First represents a new approach to the development of towns by putting local communities and business in the forefront of future planning. Such planning will be facilitated and resourced to allow each town to chart their own future along with support from a collaborative Town Team, and supported by Local Authority. Funding is available at both national and local level to support towns to engage, design and implement a plan to reimagine their town. While the Town Centre First policy focuses on towns, the principles and framework can equally be applied to the development of rural villages.
Our towns are central to our lives, they are where we work, live and spend our time. They also have the potential to make a major contribution to issues such as the housing provision; community engagement; and investing in our local and national economy.
This Governmental initiative will provide investment that will deliver improvement to our towns and generate further economic and environmental benefits. Local Authorities will play a vital role in the implementation of this policy, and the full realisation of its potential, through building on the already established links and engagement with local communities, and through lending their support to tailoring local development strategies.
Town Centre First aims to create town centres that function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit, while also functioning as the service, social, cultural and recreational hub for the local community.
Callan was picked as one of the towns used as a case study of the Town Centre Living Initiative (TCLI) pilot scheme. The TCLI is a scheme managed by the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD) where up to €100,000 has been made available to participating towns to develop innovative proposals encouraging the use of vacant and underused buildings in town centres for living.
A series of community/cultural projects based around Bridge Street in Callan, supported by the Callan Town Team provided a catalyst for small-scale impactful commercial and residential regeneration. This project was developed through a number of different groups in the town including theatre groups, architects, business owners and the wider community. The TCLI pilot scheme resulted in such positive ventures as the redevelopment of a vacant building as residential apartments; the introduction of a one-way traffic system; and the enhancement of St Mary’s Church (supported by the Heritage Council).
The full policy document can be downloaded and viewed here, with Callan featured on Page 82.