Many towns and villages facing ‘catastrophic’ decline

SMALL towns and villages in the North West, West and Border region are facing ‘catastrophic’ economic and population decline.
The Northern & Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) issued the warning after new analysis shows 44,000 empty homes and other buildings in the West, North West and Border counties despite Ireland’s ongoing housing crisis
Almost three-quarters (72%) of the region’s towns and villages recorded a residential vacancy rate above the State average of 4.9%.
The NWRA says funding resources from the Town Centre First Policy need to be mobilised to address the situation.
Commenting, David Minton, Director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly said our villages and towns need rescuing.
“If action is not taken, we face a catastrophic situation where the decentralisation and fragmentation of our communities will only deepen. Development has been permitted away from town centres and we have seen a huge growth of commercial and public sector services move out of core urban areas. Out of town retailing, cinemas, sports facilities, offices (public and private), workplaces, homes, schools and colleges have all contributed to sucking activity away from our town centres.”
The Northern and Western Regional Assembly has made several recommendations that should be considered in the forthcoming Town Centre First Policy and for other funding streams that will support the regeneration of vacant and derelict properties in Ireland.
Christy Hyland, Chairperson of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly said there should be a role for the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland in managing and distributing resources in areas experiencing high vacancy and dereliction rates.
“The importance of towns and cities to re-building and reimaging our country in light of the pandemic, is fundamental. We heard time and again that the most successful towns and cities blend housing, retail, workplaces, and leisure, and this is at the heart of our proposals for towns and cities. While we acknowledge that towns, smaller cities and larger cities will all require a different approach, we hope that our report, and its recommendations, will provide a proposal for the vibrant, sustainable towns and cities of the future that can help improve social and economic wellbeing, particularly in the West, North and West and Border areas”.
The NWRA is one of three regional bodies in Ireland. The Assembly’s primary role is regional spatial planning but it also channels substantial investment through European Regional Development Funds.

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