Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business


School of Business

First Advisor

Dr. Angela Wright


The purpose of this study was to identify a Town Centre Management Framework [TCMF] for future-proofing towns in rural Ireland. Town centre management has been widely credited as a mechanism for town rejuvenation to combat high vacancy rates, online retail sales, changing demographics, out of town shopping centres, changing consumer behaviours. Despite the popularity of this public-private partnership model growing internationally in the last decade (Currently over 600 schemes currently operating in the UK), Ireland remains steadfastly dependent on volunteers anchoring up retail-focused strategies. Initiatives, through Business Improvement Districts [BID] somewhat redress this imbalance in some larger towns. The model, however, is not transferable and fit for purpose across all of Ireland's rural town centres [IRTCs]. On the 06^*^ July 2018, the Labour Party presented a Bill to the Dail to restore local Town Councils in Ireland enthusiastically supported by other parties in the Dail. The Bill was motivated to rejuvenate towns in rural Ireland and returned what is perceived as a loss of citizen participation.

Efforts are being made to provide research programmes to deliver a National Town Centre Management Policy; however, the literature has failed to develop an informed fit for purpose TCMF. This study represents the first comprehensive TCMF for IRTCs. The research is guided by a post-positivistic view of ontology and utilises a qualitative grounded theory method. Ten face to face interviews were conducted with significant, influential stakeholders across a stratified sample of rural towns. This study is intended for use by local communities and all other stakeholders who want to or are in the process of determining a strategy to revive and rejuvenate their town centres.

The research offers three significant contributions to knowledge. Firstly, it provides an overview of the previous functions and performance of Town Councils in Ireland, with particular reference to public participation, value for money and town management. It concludes that the restoration of Town Councils is premature and alternative models, as suggested in this study, should be considered. Second, a comprehensive qualitative critique of the performance of local government reforms, namely the Local Government Reform Act 2014, using as its basis two recommendations to National Oversight & Audit Commission [NOACj. Finally, data resulting from the qualitative research and desk-based research form a radical, yet logical performance model for Town Centre Management for Rural Towns in Ireland. XII

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