Town revamp stymied by funding exclusion

by Gazette Reporter
0 comment

SWORDS will not benefit from the Living City Initiative (which replaced the Urban Renewal Scheme) introduced in Budget 2013 and extended in 2014 to include Dublin, due to the fact that the scheme is intended for cities, rather than towns.
The Living City Initiative is a targeted pilot tax incentive that aims to encourage the regeneration of the retail heartland of central business districts.
It is designed to provide incentives on a pilot basis which are aimed at complementing the efforts of other public and private bodies to boost the residential and retail quality of historically and culturally important urban areas.
The regeneration of Swords Main Street, which many believe has been slowly dying since the Pavilions Shopping Centre opened, is a huge issue in the area.
It is almost unanimously believed that the refurbishment of Swords Castle would help draw tourists to the area and thus boost the stagnating local economy.
In light of this, Cllr Darragh Butler (FF) called for the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, to extend the Living City Initiative to include the revitalisation of Swords Main Street and Swords Castle and further develop Swords as a tourism hub.
Cllr Butler said: “In December last year, Minister Noonan confirmed his willingness to extend the scheme, which was initially intended only for Limerick and Waterford on a pilot basis.
“If this scheme was extended to Swords, this would greatly assist in tackling the issue of derelict buildings on Main Street, which are damaging the business potential of neighbouring businesses who are attempting to survive and make a positive impression on local and international visitors.
“In the 1990s, there was a similar incentive scheme put in place for qualifying resort areas such as Kilkee in Clare, and Youghal in Cork. It provided a double rent allowance for qualifying buildings under the 1997 Finance Act.
“Extending the current scheme to Swords would greatly assist in the regeneration of Main Street and speed up the timeline with regard to opening up Swords Castle and knocking down the derelict buildings that hide the magnificent outer castle walls from view,” he said.
Cllr Butler added: “The issue of derelict buildings, and the impact it has on local businesses and tourism, comes up every evening when we are out knocking on doors.
“I have made contact with our [party’s] finance spokesperson, Michael McGrath, but I would be hopeful that the local government TDs will take this suggestion back to the Minister for Finance and ensure its introduction in the coming months for Swords, and possibly other Fingal towns that are badly in need of incentives that would assist in their regeneration.”
However, in response, a spokesperson from the Department of Finance said: “The Living City Initiative is a pilot scheme which was enacted in Finance Act 2013, and extended in Budget 2014 to include the cities of Dublin, Cork, Galway and Kilkenny, as well the original target cities of Limerick and Waterford.
“The inclusion of these four cities within the initiative followed the results of a thorough independent cost benefit analysis.
“The initiative will target certain areas of these six cities, particularly those areas which are most in need of regeneration. It is important to note this is not a widespread initiative, and it is targeted at those areas of Irish cities, not towns, which are most in need of attention.
“The Minister for Finance has made it clear that he does not intend to extend the pilot initiative further than these six cities,” said the spokesperson.

Related Articles