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Rural Support Funding Schemes 2021

Westmeath County Council are looking for Community Development Groups interested in developing Town and Village Projects and Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Projects.

Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS)

The 2021 scheme will, in particular, support recreational infrastructure that not only provides an outlet for communities in which they are situated but that also delivers added value from a tourism perspective, positioning rural areas to respond to the post-COVID-19 economic environment. As part of our commitment to the New Climate Change Action Plan, applicants will be asked, where appropriate, to identify how a proportion of the funding will be used to support climate action or biodiversity measures e.g. tree/hedgerow planting on trails enhancing biodiversity.

Outdoor recreation refers to those sporting, recreational and holiday pursuits based on the use of resources of the countryside and which contribute to healthy active lifestyles. “Countryside” includes land, water and air.
Given the potential impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Irish economy and the tourism sector in particular, projects that can display a specific tourism or other sectoral impact that may aid economic recovery are encouraged.

Projects typically funded, but not limited to, extensions/upgrades, repair or promotion, improved access to already established walkways, cycleways, greenways, blue ways or other recreational facilities at bogs, rivers, lakes or beaches. Projects should, where possible, indicate how they are inclusive of people with disabilities and older adults.

Applicants in 2021 are strongly encouraged to consider recreational amenities associated with the use of bogs, rivers, lakes and beaches.

Ineligible projects types are works within towns and villages, refurbishment of buildings, sports grounds, playgrounds, MUGA’s, walking or running tracks within a confined space (around sports pitches, playgrounds) or within other sports grounds. Activities which do not comply with the definition of countryside.

The ORIS Project Development is a new Measure for 2021 and will provide funding for the detailed development of projects which would enable Groups to reach a standard for application under Measure 2 or 3 of ORIS. Such work might encompass detailed design, preparation for the planning and/or procurement, appropriate assessment etc. to enable it to reach readiness for a future application under Measure 2 or 3 of ORIS.

Grant Levels range from €20,000 to €500,000.

Town and Village Scheme 2021

The 2021 Town and Village Renewal Scheme is designed to breathe new life into rural communities and places particular emphasis on projects supporting remote working and enhancing town centre living. It supports rural towns and villages as hubs of economic and social activity, making them more attractive places to live, work, socialise and raise a family.

Projects that will be supported include but not limited to are those:

  • Tackling dereliction in town centres
  • Turning vacant properties into remote working and community spaces
  • Upgrading parks, green spaces and recreational amenities
  • Improvements to streetscape and shopfronts on Main Streets
  • Projects that support and enhance the night time economy and add vibrancy to town centres.

Projects that will not be supported include:

  • Towns with a population greater than 10,000 people
  • Projects that are not in the immediate vicinity of a rural town or village
  • Single private enterprise; but projects that collectively assist private enterprises within a town or village are acceptable
  • Renovation and other works at community centres and sports clubs, except where the primary aim is to repurpose facilities located in town or village centres for remote working
  • Ongoing operational costs

The Town and Village Project Development is a new Measure for 2021 and will provide funding to groups to contribute to well-developed projects which might be subsequently progressed to construction stage, subject to the availability of further funding. Applications would involve:

Development costs for one strategic large-scale project that may be subsequently progressed with funding from the Town & Village Renewal Scheme e.g. detailed design, preparation for the planning and/or procurement, appropriate assessment etc.

Grants levels range from €20,000 to €500,000.

The selection of projects will be by means of a competitive process and we are inviting local groups to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI).

Expressions of Interest should be submitted via the online application form (see below).

Closing date for receipt of EOIs is Friday 4 June 2021 at 5pm.

Application Process

  1. Community Groups complete an expression of interest online.
  2. EOIs are considered for further development by Westmeath County Council.
  3. If a project is deemed viable additional information may be sought from the applicant group by Westmeath County Council for onward submission to the Department for their consideration and approval.

Full details and online Expression of Interest forms are now available at Rural Supports.

If you have any queries please contact the Community Development Section, Westmeath County Council at dce@westmeathcoco.ie or Tel: 044 933 2258.

Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 19/05/2021