The Small Settlement Business Grants scheme is set to revitalise rural villages across the Borough

L to R: Gerard Tracey, Head of Branch, DAERA, Alderman Margaret Tinsley Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, Mrs Anne Donnelly, owner of Keady Market Store, Lynne McDonald, Regional Development Office, DfC and Cllr Kevin Savage, Chair of Economic Development and Regeneration Committee.

Over 82 business located within small settlements across the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough are set to be revitalised through the Small Settlement business grants scheme, awarded as part of the Covid 19 Revitalisation and Recovery Programme. The programme was developed by the Council in partnership with Department for Communities (DfC), Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), and the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to support investment within 13 small settlements within the borough.

Business owners are availing of grants to improve the exterior façades of their properties with fresh paint and signage, as well as accessing support for more extensive internal structural work to reconfigure and transform un-used spaces into new commercial units. Results of the programme are already being seen in rural towns and villages with property owners beginning to revamp buildings in areas such as Markethill, Tandragee, Bleary, Donaghcloney and Keady.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Alderman Margaret Tinsley commented:
“The Small Settlements Grant scheme has enabled a significant investment in revitalising our small rural towns and villages, by supporting businesses to make improvements to their premises, creating a more vibrant and welcoming feel in our borough. I am delighted with the outcome of the project and would like to thank the Government Departments involved, helping to sustain local businesses in the area.”

Mr and Mrs Donnelly, owners of Keady Market Stores, were awarded a £3,000 grant through the scheme. Mrs Ann Donnelly said: “This grant has provided a major boost to our business. The exterior of the building had become very dated, and we had experienced some damage by water leaking from the spouting. All of that is now fixed and the shop looks fantastic. I would really like to thank the Council and funders. It would not have been possible for us, as a small business to complete this work without the grant”.

Gerard Murray, Director of the Regional Development Office in the Department for Communities, commented: “The Small Settlements Regeneration Programme is a cross-departmental programme that has provided councils with over £26m to reinvigorate the post-pandemic economy of our smaller rural towns. Initiatives such as the Business Grants scheme have helped regenerate our smaller settlements by improving the appearance and condition of the existing shopfronts, therefore making these areas more attractive for shoppers and visitors whilst also encouraging new businesses to invest. This investment is fundamental to the long-term viability and prosperity of our smaller settlements and I am pleased that the Department and Council continue to work together in this regard.”

Teresa O’Neill, Director of Rural Affairs, commented: “I am delighted DAERA continues to work in partnership with other departments and local councils to provide funding towards the Covid Recovery Small Settlements Regeneration Programme. It is pleasing to hear that an element of this funding has helped businesses in rural villages to give their premises a facelift and in doing so enhance the sustainability of both their business and their local village”.

Find out more about the Small Settlements Programme and get involved with the public consultations by checking out then Small Settlement space on the Council website here.

Some beneficiaries include: