A £20m programme designed to support smaller settlements as they recover from the impact of the pandemic and to address regeneration needs, was today announced.
The COVID Recovery Small Settlements Regeneration Programme is a collaboration between the Department for Communities, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and the Department for Infrastructure, to work closely with local government to identify priority projects for delivery on the ground.
The programme aims to address long standing issues such as rural poverty, isolation and access to services in small settlements with a population of less than 5,000 people. It will support projects that attract investors and visitors, and create vital and viable towns that meet the needs of local citizens and the surrounding areas.
Announcing the funding package for the programme, Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey said:
“This programme will see a total investment of over £20m into our small settlements. It will support regeneration projects, making our small towns and villages more appealing, accessible, vibrant and welcoming. The programme will complement efforts to help rural communities and settlements recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic, providing facilities and infrastructure and improving place-making.”
Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots said:
“This is fantastic news for rural dwellers and shows them that government has not forgotten them. It is also a great example of what can be achieved when departments work together. I think this also shows that there is a willingness within government to ensure that we continue to invest in our rural communities and make them places where people want to live and work.”
Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon added:
“This programme is a good example of how Departments can work together to deliver real change in how people live and work. I am delighted that my Department will contribute£6.5m to this programme using funding drawn from my Blue Green Infrastructure fund. This funding will help connect rural communities and create public spaces that will encourage active travel and enhance our quality of life. This all helps to meet our Climate Change ambitions, grow our economy, address regional imbalance, improve wellbeing and support a thriving region where people want to live, work, visit and invest.”
The programme will be delivered in partnership with district councils. Each council has been asked to develop a regeneration plan for its area, based on locally identified needs. The draft plans will be submitted to the Department for Communities for agreement in advance of letters of offer being issued.
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