In February 2022, the Government launched the Town Centre First (TCF) policy which aims to create town centres that function as viable, vibrant, and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit, while also functioning as the service, social, cultural, and recreational hub for the local community.
The TCF Policy recognises that Irish Towns are facing significant challenges and opportunities, and that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work. This new Government policy commits to providing resources to address many of the challenges facing our towns so that they can serve the needs of the local community in a vibrant and sustainable way.
In 2023, Laois County Council launched the Town Centre First Plan for Rathdowney.
The Rathdowney Town Centre First Plan provides a vision for the ongoing development of Rathdowney, building buy-in from existing property owners and local communities. The TCF for Rathdowney contains proposals for the 5no. transformative projects which involve improvements to the public realm, and are underlined by the following key principles:-
- The creation of a vibrant town centre through the delivery of an enhanced public realm.
- Creating streets and public spaces that are well defined, welcoming, safe and inclusive.
- Designing spaces that are robust and adaptable with landscape, green infrastructure and sustainable drainage well integrated.
- Developing a public realm that is connected to existing places and promotes opportunities for social interaction and a range of activities for all people.
- Using high quality natural materials and enhancing local biodiversity/habitats.
- Implementing a public realm strategy to raise the profile of Rathdowney, to encourage increased pedestrian flow, to attract visitors and new businesses and to engender a renewed pride and confidence in the town.
The plan also contains a 10 year action plan to drive the economic development of the town for the benefit of the community.
The Town Centre First Plan will be delivered by Laois County Council and various stakeholders. An important element for the successful delivery is the creation of a Town Team to work in collaboration with the Council to deliver elements of the Rathdowney TCF Plan.
In 2023, the Town Regeneration Officer and Laois County Council brought together a number of people who represented various interests across the town of Rathdowney to form a Town Team. They will work in collaboration with Laois County Council to deliver positive outcomes for Rathdowney.
In April 2023, the Sustainable Community Plan for Mountrath was launched. A copy of the plan can be obtained from Laois County Council by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sustainable Community Plan includes the identification of proposals and actions for the enhancement of Mountrath Town and its community. It provides a shared vision for the future development of Mountrath Town that is based on extensive public consultation with local residents, businesses, and community groups.
The Town Team was re-established in Mountrath in 2023 and is committed to revitalising the Town Centre. Mountrath Town Team is comprised of representatives from all the local community groups within the town and initially, it will focus on projects which will promote the social and economic revival of Mountrath Town Centre. The team is supported by Laois County Council and the Town Regeneration Officer.