A National Collaborative Town Centre Health Check Training Programme in conjunction with participating towns across the country, to help monitor and drive the development of the town centre going forward.
The Heritage Council, RGDATA and the Retail Consortium, in collaboration with the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, the IPI, ILI, RIAI, UCD, LIT Thurles, DIT and QUB, have developed a trans-disciplinary National Town Centre Health Check Training Programme in conjunction with 12 participating towns across the country. The training will support the creation of robust Town Centre Health Checks for 12 no. Irish towns, which are linked to the statutory planning system, through the review of county development plans and Local Area Plans.
Aims and Objectives
The aim of the training programme is to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation of the critical role that historic town centres play and the wide-ranging impacts that their vitality and viability have on overall socio-economic, environmental and cultural growth and development, and on quality of life for citizens and visitors alike.
The ‘pilot’ aims to develop an innovative town centre-led retail, cultural heritage and tourism baseline, which will be recognised internationally as a best practice collaborative development model for regeneration. Essentially, this would be an innovative national ‘Towns’ capacity-building programme designed by, and for, Local Authorities, town centre businesses and local citizens/community groups with close mentoring support from professional practitioners with significant experience of town centre regeneration, urban design and planning and management in Ireland, and elsewhere.
The proposal will build upon Town Centre Health Check (TCHC) projects already undertaken by the Heritage Council and its key Partners including Fingal County Council/Balbriggan Chamber of Commerce in Balbriggan in 2010; and Clare County Council/Kilrush Tidy Towns, in Kilrush in 2012 (available below).
The Health Check will establish an innovative baseline, to help monitor and drive the development of the town centre going forward. The work of the Town Centre Health Check will include
- Land Use surveys to establish the overall vacancy rates in the town.
- Retailer surveys to establish current levels of commercial activity and outlook.
- Pedestrian counts to establish actual town centre visitor numbers.
- Shoppers surveys to rate visitor experience and satisfaction.
Members of the public and business owners are encouraged to participate and give their views on their experiences in the town centre. It is an opportunity to shape town centres and strengthen it into the future, to make it an attractive place to work, live and visit.
Due to an exponential growth in demand for the ‘pilot’ training programme during 2016/2017, i.e. 70 no. people attended the first workshop in Naas Town Hall (September 2016) and 130 no. people attended the second workshop in Dublin Castle (March 2017), i.e. 90% increase in demand for places, the training programme has been divided into two key strands, as of April 2018, namely:
- Border Towns – a workshop was held in Monaghan for Border Towns in June 2018 in partnership with Monaghan County Council. A Border Towns CTCHC Workshop Feedback Report has recently been finalised (December 2018, download report here). A final draft of this report was submitted to the partner Departments in September 2018. 50 no. people from towns all along the Border attended the first workshop and a second training workshop for Border Towns will be held in Dundalk on the 11th April 2019
- Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) Towns – this first-ever AEC CTCHC workshop was delivered on the 22nd November 2018 in Ballina in partnership with Mayo County Council and the partner government departments including the Department of Rural and Community Development. 60 no. people from various backgrounds attended from towns located all along the west coast. As with the Border Towns Workshop, it is planned that a workshop feedback report will be prepared and circulated to all attendees for comment/input before finalisation and publication in April 2019.
The following third-level organisations and institutes are involved as programme partners:
- Dundalk IT
- IT Sligo
- IT Tralee
- Letterkenny IT