The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, T.D., today launched the first call for proposals under the Government’s new Rural Regeneration and Development Fund.
The Fund will provide €1 billion in investment over the next 10 years to support the renewal of small towns, villages and outlying rural areas, as part of Project Ireland 2040. Initial funding of €315 million is being allocated to the Fund on a phased basis over the period 2019 to 2022. The Fund will be administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development.
Announcing the opening of the Fund, Minister Ring said:
The types of initiatives which the Fund will support include (but are not limited to):
- Measures to encourage residential living or commercial development in town centres including by investing in vacant buildings
- Improving public spaces in towns and villages and the development of areas and buildings for community facilities
- Projects that support job creation, entrepreneurship and innovation (e.g. development of Digital Hubs, Enterprise Hubs, Creative Hubs, training facilities)
- Measures to tackle social disadvantage
- Tourism initiatives which attract visitors to rural areas
- Improving walking, cycling, and public transport access to and within towns and villages (including improvements to roads, bridges and car parking facilities)
- The provision and enhancement of recreational or leisure facilities
The Minister added:
The Fund will be open to Local Authorities, Local Development Companies, State agencies, other Government Departments, philanthropic funders, the private sector and communities. The Lead Partner must be a State-funded body.
The closing date for the receipt of proposals is 27 September 2018 and it is anticipated that successful projects will be announced in late October/early November. A further call for proposals under the Fund will be announced in the first half of 2019.
Full details of the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, along with the Application Form, are available on the Department of Rural and Community Development website, at https://drcd.gov.ie/about/rural/rural-regeneration-development-fund/
Rural Regeneration and Development Fund
Why is this fund being put in place?
Project Ireland 2040 sets out a comprehensive framework for the future development of Ireland, to plan and enable a prosperous economy, marked by equality of opportunity and well-being for our citizens.
Rural areas play a key role in identifying our national identity and in driving our economy. They will be a key part of our country’s strategic development to 2040. For that reason, one of the National Strategic Outcomes of the National Planning Framework is to achieve Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities. Other National Strategic Outcomes, such as creating A Strong Economy Supported by Enterprise, Education and Skills, and Enhanced Amenity and Heritage will also support rural development.
The National Development Plan provides €1 billion to set up a Rural Regeneration and Development Fund to support the NPF objectives. The Fund provides an unprecedented opportunity to make a significant and sustainable impact on rural communities, strengthen the fabric of rural Ireland, support job creation in rural areas and thereby address de-population of our rural communities. It will provide an opportunity to support integrated, ambitious and strategic multi-annual projects which support rural development, involving a range of Departments, State agencies, and other partners.
What type of projects will be eligible under the fund?
The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will be aimed at contributing to the National Strategic Outcomes in the National Planning Framework. The type of projects which will be supported from the Fund could include, for example:
• Enhancing the attractiveness, vitality and vibrancy of smaller towns and villages and rural areas as a means of achieving more sustainable development.
• Encouraging and attracting entrepreneurship and innovation in the context of the rural economy and its continued sustainable diversification.
• Catering for developments which have benefits for the local and regional economy.
• Supporting community development in rural areas through projects which can be replicated across the country.
• Growing activity-based Tourism.
• Developing our natural and built heritage to benefit rural Ireland.
How will the fund operate?
Proposals for funding will be made through a competitive bid approach, based on delivering the objectives in the National Planning Framework.
Decisions on the successful proposals will be made by the Minister for Rural and Community Development who will be advised by a Project Advisory Board, which will include independent experts. The Board will assess the proposals against detailed criteria and make recommendations to the Minister.
In line with the overall strategy in the National Planning Framework, there will be a close connection between the operation of the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, so as to ensure consistency of decisions, and to maximise synergies in both urban and rural regeneration.
Proposals will need to demonstrate:
– Relevance to the National Strategic Outcomes set out in the NPF and NDP.
– A sustainable impact on the social or economic development of rural communities through measureable outputs.
– Collaboration between Departments, State agencies, Local Authorities, the private and/or community sectors and other bodies. Collaboration will be encouraged across administrative boundaries as well as within administrative boundaries.
– An integrated strategic approach to rural development which is linked to the NPF Strategic Outcomes and consistent with County Development Plans, Local Economic and Community Plans, and the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies to be developed by the Regional Assemblies.
– Additionality and value for money.
– Leveraging of funding from Local Authorities, Exchequer/State sector, as well as from the community or private sector where appropriate, to enable investment to proceed that might not otherwise occur.
Who are the likely applicants to the fund?
Proposals will be invited from Local Authorities, and other locally/regionally based organisations, such as Local Development Companies, Chambers of Commerce, etc., as well as Government Departments and State Agencies. For the purpose of accountability and oversight, the lead partner of all projects will be a State funded body; however, collaboration with the private sector will be encouraged.
Proposals may be made in respect of settlements of 10,000 or less and their outlying areas. A limited number of specified towns with a population of 10,000 or less will be eligible for support under the Urban Regeneration Fund which will be operated by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government; however, funding will only be provided under one Fund for any particular project.
How much is available under the Fund during Project Ireland 2040 and in 2019?
The National Development Plan provides an allocation of €1 billion for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund to 2027. Initial funding of €315 million is being allocated to the Fund over the period 2019 to 2022 on a scaled basis.
Will 100% of successful projects be funded?
In general, the Fund will provide up to 75% of the total project value, with at least 25% of funding to be provided from other sources. A maximum of 80% funding will be considered where community contributions form a significant element of the match-funding.
Proposals submitted for funding will have to demonstrate a stakeholder contribution in the form of a combination of wider Exchequer and/or State sector investment, Local Authority investment and/or land, community investment, private sector investment (where appropriate) or other asset contributions.