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Matthews welcomes €100,000 funding for Blessington under Town Centres First Initiative

Date: 9 December 2021

Deputy Steven Matthews was speaking following the announcement that Blessington will receive €100,000 to support and develop a Town Centres First master plan for the town. This is part of a wider national rollout of this policy, and it is expected that more Wicklow Towns will receive similar support in the coming years as this initiative progresses. Discussing the plan, Deputy Matthews said:

“I am delighted that Blessington has been selected as one of the 26 towns across the country to receive this funding to support a Town Centres First Plan. This has been a core policy of the Green Party for many years, and we worked extremely hard during the Programme for Government negotiations to ensure that it was included.

“The basic premise of a Town Centres First approach is ensuring our towns have the right plan in place to tackle the issues of dereliction, vacant properties, and above all, to bring life back into towns so that they become better places to live, visit, work and run a business. It’s incredibly important that local groups such as business owners, residents and tidy towns groups amongst others can feed into this policy as they have the local knowledge to ensure the plan is successful. No one size fits all policy will work.

In recent months I have had the opportunity to meet with the Blessington Tidy Towns group and the Blessington Town Team to discuss how we can create a more attractive, safe, and inviting town centre. Separately, I’m continuing my work to progress the Blessington inner relief road to reduce through traffic on Main Street which is one key aspect in creating a safer and more enjoyable town centre.

“A key aspect of the plan will be about making it easier to return vacant shop units either back into commercial use or convert them into residential use. There are countless underutilised spaces across Wicklow above shops, cafés, and pubs that in years gone by had been homes. These are the sort of practical steps that will breathe life back into towns but also help to alleviate the housing crisis in relatively inexpensive, environmentally sustainable way.

“There were two comprehensive studies carried out last year in Blessington, the Town Centre Health Check and the Blessington Accessibility Study. These studies, working in conjunction with the Town Centres First master plan funding will transform Blessington for all residents and visitors to enjoy. I look forward to the opportunity to work with Wicklow County Council and other local stakeholders in Blessington in the new year to ensure the success of this project.

“The funding announced for Blessington will form part of the Government’s wider Town Centre First Policy which will be published in the coming weeks and I will continue to push for other towns from across Wicklow to be included in future funding announcements, concluded Deputy Matthews.



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