Small towns suffer ‘perfect storm’

Report author Stephen Purcell.

Urgent action by Galway County Council as well as the Government is required to stem the decimation of regional towns which are now on their knees.

That’s the warning in a major new report which concludes that increased costs, out of town shopping centres, the dissolution of town councils and high vacancy rates have all contributed to a ‘perfect storm’ for Galway’s town centres.

The study by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland recommends that Galway County Council restricts out-of-town shopping centres and restores residential use to high streets.

Nationally, high-speed broadband must be rolled out and a tax on owners of derelict properties to force them back into use will also be vital if hundreds of small towns are to stop dying.

The report, entitled ‘Rejuvenating Ireland’s small-town centres’ and compiled by Stephen Purcell from Future Analytics Consulting, focuses on 200 towns with populations of between 1,500 and 10,000.

Under the microscope in Galway were Clifden, Moycullen, Barna, Athenry, Gort, Loughrea, Ballinasloe and Tuam.

It highlights the negative impact on small towns from the rapid growth of online retail sales and the increasing urbanisation of the population.

The population grew by 37% between 1996 and 2016 in Galway, the only county from outside Leinster to be represented within the above-average growth category.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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