THRIVE scheme with €120m fund to renovate heritage buildings in town centres launched

• THRIVE scheme offers local authorities up to €7m to renovate disused heritage buildings in cities, regional growth centres and key towns

• Initiative has potential to transform town centres across the regions supporting delivery of the Government’s Town Centre First Policy

A new funding scheme under Ireland’s two European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Regional Programmes is providing €120m to support local authorities and their citizens to re-imagine town centres and to transform publicly owned vacant or derelict heritage buildings within those town centres through renovation, renewal, and adaptive reuse.

THRIVE – the Town Centre First Heritage Revival Scheme – was launched by Minister of State for Local Government and Planning Kieran O’Donnell TD on February 8. The scheme has been co-designed by the Regional Assemblies and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to address European, national and regional policy objectives. THRIVE is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union.

Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Kieran O’Donnell said: “I welcome the launch of the new €120m THRIVE Scheme under the ERDF Regional Programmes. This is an exciting scheme that will breathe new life into towns and urban centres across Ireland, so that they can function as the sustainable and vibrant heart of the communities they serve. At the heart of this is the Town Centre First approach. This ensures that local authorities engage with their citizens to develop plans, select suitable projects, and identify sustainable and viable end uses for underutilised heritage buildings. I look forward to seeing the transformative impact in these centres and the benefits this will have in driving regeneration in the years ahead.”

THRIVE will provide local authorities with funding of between €2m and €7m to renovate, refurbish and adapt vacant and derelict heritage buildings in their town centres. Heritage buildings under the scheme are classified as structures that form part of the architectural heritage and have unique architectural, historical, archaeological or artistic qualities, or are linked to the cultural and economic history of a place.

Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan said: “This announcement demonstrates the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage’s commitment to heritage-led regeneration and tackling vacancy as part of the delivery of the Town Centre First policy. This vital funding will support local authorities to conserve and protect our valuable built heritage, but also by ensuring the long-term sustainable re-use of these buildings and helping us meet our climate change targets”.

Cathaoirleach of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, Cllr John Naughten said: “I believe that THRIVE will go a long way towards kickstarting development in our region by turning our town centres into attractive spaces for people to live and work and visit. THRIVE will promote a citizen-centred and community-led approach to planning and design while also preserving the unique cultural significance of our heritage buildings.”

Projects are required to embrace the core values of the New European Bauhaus – sustainability, aesthetics, and inclusion. The scheme promotes a citizen-centred community-led approach to planning, design and project selection under the Town Centre First framework. Grants of between €40,000 and €200,000 are available to support local authorities with the planning and design phase.

Cathaoirleach of the Southern Regional Assembly, Cllr Terry Shannon said:” THRIVE has the potential to transform our town centres by adapting and reusing vacant and derelict heritage buildings and allowing us to create beautiful, sustainable and inclusive spaces to improve the quality of life of our citizens. THRIVE provides the opportunity to rejuvenate our heritage buildings to meet the modern and innovative requirements of our communities today.”

THRIVE is targeted at larger urban settlements – cities, regional growth centres and key towns – and is designed to complement other national funds targeting smaller urban settlements. It is a competitive funding call and with 100% grant aid available, is expected to be highly competitive.

The scheme is managed by the two ERDF Managing Authorities – the Southern Regional Assembly and the Northern and Western Regional Assembly. THRIVE is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union. The first call is now open and published on the Assemblies’ websites at and

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Regional Programmes

THRIVE – the Town Centre First Heritage Revival Scheme – is delivered under Ireland’s two ERDF Regional Programmes:

o Southern, Eastern and Midland Regional Programme 2021-2027

o Northern and Western Regional Programme 2021-2027

The two ERDF Regional Programmes set out Ireland’s investment strategy for €853 million, of which €396 million is financed by the EU. The ERDF supports Irish regions in promoting economic, social and territorial cohesion in line with key EU priorities.

The programmes focus on three strategic outcomes:

• developing smarter more competitive regions through measures like building Research, Development and Innovation (RD&I) capacity in public research institutions and by strengthening regional innovation systems in line with Ireland’s Smart Specialisation Strategy and the Regional Enterprise Plans.

• supporting actions to scale up energy efficiency measures for those in energy poverty; and

• supporting the sustainable regeneration of towns and urban centres using a Town Centres First Framework.

The programme covering the north-west of the country is managed by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) and the programme covering the midlands, south and east of the country is managed by the Southern Regional Assembly (SRA), with significant collaboration from the Eastern and Midlands Regional Assembly (EMRA).

New European Bauhaus

On 15 September 2021, the European Commission adopted a Communication setting out the concept of the New European Bauhaus (NEB). The NEB brings a cultural and creative dimension to the European Green Deal to strengthen sustainable innovation, technology and economy. The NEB is about the spaces where we live and the way we would like to live together, while respecting the planet and protecting nature. A triangle of three inseparable core values guides the NEB:

• sustainability, from climate goals to circularity and biodiversity;

• aesthetics, quality of experience and style, beyond functionality; and

• inclusion, including accessibility and affordability.

“Through its transdisciplinary and participatory approach, the New European Bauhaus reinforces the role of local and regional communities, industries, innovators and creative minds that work together to improve our quality of life. Cohesion policy will transform new ideas into action at the local level.” Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira

Town Centre First

The Town Centre First Policy was launched jointly on 4 February 2022 by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Rural and Communtiy Development and provides a co-ordinated, whole-of-government policy framework to proactively address the decline in the health of towns across Ireland and support measures to regenerate and revitalise them.

Key elements of the TCF Approach are:

• Collaborative and Plan led: Town Centre First Plans are integrated urban strategies produced by a Town Team of local community and business representatives, that set out a vision, and identify and develop priority projects to drive the revitalisation of their town centres

• Delivery Focused: Local authorities with eligible towns have been provided with a dedicated senior level Town Regeneration Officers who will lead Town Centre First implementation at a local level and support local Town Teams in the preparation of their TCF Plan

• Integrated: A National Town Centre First Office has been established within the Local Government Management Agency to drive TCF actions, coordinate stakeholder engagement, and share best practice at a national level and across the local government sector.

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