€2 million to tackle derelict sites in five towns and villages

The Rev William Casey (Rev Willie C) memorial, Abbeyfeale. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

ABBEYFEALE, Ardagh, Askeaton, Bruff and Rathkeale have received funding of €1.5 million from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund to deal with the issue of derelict sites.

It is the largest amount awarded to a single project in the country under this round of funding, while a further €500,000 be provided by Limerick City and County Council.

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The aim of this project is to bring derelict properties in the core of the targeted towns and villages across rural Limerick back into use with an emphasis on re-use for housing, based on the delivery of demonstrator housing projects.

The project will also develop plans for re-use of, identified derelict properties/ brownfield lands in the same towns and villages as community, social and economic infrastructure.

The key idea is that the need for housing has not been sufficiently utilised as a potentially effective mechanism for the regeneration of rural towns and villages. There is demand for housing in rural towns particularly for housing that is affordable in terms of market price for owner occupation and private rental.

Resettlement of populations in the core of towns and villages is needed for their sustainable development.

Outgoing Mayor Michael Sheahan said that derelict properties would be brought back into use, primarily as housing in the five locations.

“This will help rejuvenate the centres of these towns and villages, which have been in decline over the past decade or so,” he explained.

Community Development Director Gordon Daly said the funding was a major boost in the council’s battle against dereliction and efforts to harness the potential of small towns and villages in County Limerick.

“The ability to work from home, improving broadband and greater awareness of the social and economic benefits of living in small towns and villages means there is an increasing demand for housing in these areas.

“This project will aim to match supply to this demand and at affordable prices,” he added.

Over the past 18 months, the council has commenced the compulsorily purchase of 56 derelict properties using its powers under the Derelict Sites Act 1990, with many of these now acquired by the council.

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund is a commitment by the government to invest €1 billion in rural Ireland between 2019 and 2027.

The purpose of the fund is to support job creation, address de-population of rural communities and support improvements in towns and villages with a population of less than 10,000, and outlying areas.

Limerick projects funded previously include: Great Southern Greenway Limerick, Glenbrohane Local Hub, Murroe Community Hub, International Mountain Biking Project in Ballyhoura.