Chapter 1 - Introduction

Open16 Sep, 2023, 8:00am - 16 Oct, 2023, 5:00pm

The Government launched the Town Centre First Policy in February 2022, it is a new initiative, which seeks to revive town centres, it aims to create centres that function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit, while also functioning as the service, social, cultural and recreational hub for the local community.

The policy recognises that Irish towns are facing significant challenges, having experienced continued decline for many years, with high levels of vacancy and dereliction and a general lack of direction. However, many of these towns possess lots of opportunities for rejuvenation which requires a coordinated and comprehensive response, in order to address the decline.

The Town Centre First policy recognises that every town is unique, and accordingly requires a tailored response to address the issues that exists. It lays the foundation for each town to develop their own plan – led approach to revival. This will be expressed through a tailored Town Centre First Plan, which is underpinned with a clear diagnosis of the local strengths and challenges.

Abbeyfeale has been selected as one of first towns in Ireland to be awarded funding to prepare a Town Centre First Plan, along with 25 other towns across the country, which will undergo this process. Abbeyfeale is a typical Irish market town centre, dominated by the Limerick to Kerry National Road (N21) running through the town, the streets lined with many two to three-storey buildings and at the heart of the town, the Town Square, once the economic hub of the town, where markets where held, business was transacted and people gathered socially from the rural hinterland. 










However, like many Irish towns, the town centre has suffered decline in recent years, with the closure of many independent retailers, loss of local residents, growth of online shopping, increased business rates, congestion in the town centre and a general shift away from town centre business to remote working. The Town Centre First Plan introduces a fresh approach to the development of towns across Ireland, empowering local communities and businesses to shape the future of their own towns. The primary goal of this strategy document is to address the social, economic, cultural, and environmental issues emerging in Abbeyfeale and integrate them into a comprehensive regeneration plan to make the town centre vibrant again. 

This Town Centre First Plan will be driven by the local community and businesses as part of a Town Team who will be supported by Town Regeneration Officer and technical expertise within the Local Authority. The Town Centre First Policy is underpinned by existing funding streams spread across a number of Government schemes, which will provide the basis for the town to deliver the objectives/projects set out in this Plan.

This strategy document outlines a range of actionable initiatives that align with the planning framework established in the Draft Abbeyfeale Local Area Plan 2023 – 2029, which is currently being prepared by Limerick City and County Council. These proposals can be implemented in a phased manner, paving the way for future funding and investment opportunities that can support the rejuvenation of Abbeyfeale.

It should be noted that the Town Centre First Plan does not propose to alter existing land use zonings or to rezone lands in Abbeyfeale. All planning policies and objectives relating to Abbeyfeale are set out in the Limerick Development Plan 2022 – 2028, the Abbeyfeale Local Area Plan 2014 – 2020 (as extended) and the Draft Abbeyfeale Local Area Plan 2023 – 2029.


A Town Team comprising of representatives of local residents, business people, community/voluntary groups and other stakeholders with the support of the Local Authority has been established and have been informing the preparation of this Plan and will follow through on the delivery of the all-important priority actions identified to make their area a better place to live, work and visit.

The ambition of the Town Centre First Plan is to revive Abbeyfeale and make it a modern market town, with an appropriate mix of retail, leisure, cultural, commercial, residential and social activity. The town will again become a vibrant place, which celebrates its past and embraces its future.