Report offers solutions to tackle high vacancy rates in Castleblayney

Consistency in planning policy and town centre employment supports are just some of the possible solutions put forward to respond to challenges facing Castleyblayney.

The town was one of six chosen to participate in the Town Centre Living Initiative, a pilot scheme developed to identify issues in rural town centres.

€100,000 was made available in 2018 to develop proposals to encourage the reuse of vacant buildings in town centres for living.

The report shows there is a 16 per cent vacancy rate in the town and the report says that Castleblayney is known to have had “very high levels of vacancy over many years”.

Three workshops for property owners were organised to understand the reasons for the high vacancy rates.

They found a general lack of “know-how” around planning and regulations was an issue.

A reluctance to take on more debt and a lack of business confidence were also cited as contributing factors.

Some possible solutions included the provision of an independent support worker for property owners, town centre employment supports and consistency in planning policy.

While the Town Centre Living Initiative concluded that excellent work is being carried out by Local Authorities, it expressed concern that there is no co-ordinated national support for towns.

One of its recommendations was the establishment of Ireland’s Town Partnership – an independent not-for-profit to support towns and their development, similar to one that already exists in Scotland.