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Town Centre First

Town Centre First

The Government’s Town Centre First Policy (launched 4th February 2022) is a major new policy that aims to tackle vacancy, combat dereliction and breathe new life into town centres.

The first significant action in the policy is the establishment of a National Town Centre First Office, based in the LGMA and led by a National Town Centre First Coordinator.  The National Town Centre First Office will drive best practice implementation of policy actions and coordinate engagement with national stakeholders and the local government sector.  The office will also support and coordinate a network of Town Regeneration Officers to be appointed in 26 local authorities, who will bring a coordinated approach to the delivery of Town Centre First across the country and support local town teams.

Key to Town Centre First are local communities and local businesses who now have the opportunity to reimagine and shape the future of their town/ village through the development of a Town Centre First Plan with the support of a dedicated Town Regeneration Officer and their Local Authority. The policy lays the foundation for towns to develop a tailored plan by a Town Team in collaboration with the Local Authority.

As part of the national Town Centre First Policy initiative, Portlaw was identified as a ‘pathfinder’ town and funding was granted to Waterford City & County Council to develop a regeneration plan for Portlaw. Portlaw was selected on the basis of successful community led initiatives to date, the challenges the town currently faces and the opportunities and potential that are unique to the town.

Waterford City & County Council intend to carry out a series of Town Centre First engagements across the Town & Village settlements in Waterford. This process will involve data gathering, engagement and consultation with local communities to identify the key concerns, thoughts, opinions and ideas of local residents and visitors within the towns/villages.

A number of initial steps to help better understand the identified town or village will be important – local auditing, background research and analysis of Census 2022 will be keys steps in establishing a baseline for each identified Town or Village. An audit to help establish baseline figures and measure town/village performance will be carried out as part of the health check process.

This will assist in being able to measure the economic diversity and social value of Waterford’s towns and villages – this collection of data alongside land use analysis will encourage strategic decision making and focus and aid funding bids within Town & Village plans. Another important piece of work involves sourcing primary data to help better understand the local Town/Village through a series of surveys to get valuable feedback and ideas from all groups living and working within Waterford’s Towns/Villages.