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27/09/2021

"What we need is a lot more than that" - property chief blasts €30m 'revival' fund

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A €30 million investment programme to revive rural towns and villages has been reservedly welcomed by a leading Kildare property expert.

The Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers National President (Property Partners Brady), Maynooth’s Eamon O’Flaherty has branded the move as a “start” but says it falls far short of what is needed.

Explaining that there are lots of smaller towns and villages in the south and west of County Kildare that really suffered during the downturn and are in need of investment. Mr O’Flaherty believes that the monies won’t “make much difference” to Kildare due to the size of the fund. He explains that once the fund has been divided across the nation, there is likely to be very little left in the pot to make any significant difference. “What we need is a lot more than that,” he says.

Mr O’Flaherty remarks that the organisation has proposed converting some of the unused buildings in towns like Rathangan and Monasterevin, “even at the back of Kildare town,” and “converting” them into residential units with tax breaks for owner occupiers as they “already have” all of the infrastructure in place in terms of street lighting, etc. “The infrastructure is there and they can be bought relatively cheaply.” Adding that this would give people a chance to buy a home for themselves and create jobs in the local economy while construction work was taking place and in the long term, due to the population growth.

The rural funding scheme will run for six years from 2016. Local authorities will need to apply for the package, which will be overseen by the Local Community Development Committees.

The programme has been criticised by Fianna Fáil, Sinn Fein and some farming organisations. Minister Alan Kelly has admitted it isn't the final answer, but is a step in the right direction. Kildare North Fine Gael TD, Bernard Durkan, says "it will have the biggest single impact on up-grading our streetscape".

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