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£90m “Transforming Towns” fund announced by Welsh Government – with £36m allocated for town centre regeneration projects

Wales’ towns are to receive £90m of additional investment as part of a new Welsh Government approach to transforming town centres across the country, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn AM announced today.

The Transforming Towns package being announced today includes measures to increase footfall by making sure the public sector locate services in town centre locations, tackle empty buildings and land to help bring them back into use, and greening our town centres.

Many towns are struggling in the wake of declining retail sales and the way we use town centres has changed.

To help breathe new life into town centres, the Welsh Government is today unveiling a new ‘Town Centre First’ approach, which means locating services and buildings in town centres wherever possible.

As part of this approach, all Welsh Government departments will put the health and vibrancy of town centres as the starting point for their location decision-making processes.

Utilising this approach, the public sector is also being encouraged to support towns by locating offices, facilities and services within them in order to drive footfall and create or sustain vibrancy.

To support this new approach, the Welsh Government is announcing a £90m investment to transform Wales’ town centres. Investments include:

  • £36m for town centre regeneration projects, extending our current capital programme for a further year and bringing in an anticipated total investment of almost £58m;
  • £13.6m to tackle empty and dilapidated buildings and land. This will enable local authorities to take enforcement action to bring empty buildings and land back into use;
  • £2m for coastal towns to support projects to an anticipated value of £3m which will contribute to town centre / high street regeneration;
  • £10m of additional funding for the Town Centre Loans scheme, taking the total to £41.6m, to bring vacant and underutilised buildings back into use in our town centres;
  • £5m funding for Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity within town centres. This will support greening projects which will deliver environmental benefits and make town centres more attractive places to visit.

The Deputy Minister will make the announcement at the Queen’s Market building in Rhyl, which has received £5m of Welsh Government funding.

This forms part of a total investment of £16.5m in the town centre as a result of regeneration schemes.

Announcing the new approach during a visit to Rhyl, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn will say: “Towns are incredibly important to the people and places of Wales, and they are incredibly important to me personally. We have great towns in Wales – towns with inspiring histories and unique assets. But we want our towns to have great futures as well as great pasts, and we know that some of our towns are facing challenges.

“The retail sector has shrunk dramatically and this trend looks set to continue. This is why we need to refocus our efforts on town centres, transforming them to be to be fit for the 21st Century. The Transforming Towns package I am announcing today will help towns do just that – giving them a much needed boost.

“As part of this package, we’re taking action to bring empty and derelict properties in our town centres back into use and our Town Centre First Principle will help bring increased footfall and vibrancy.

“Taken together these measures will make a significant contribution to the health of our town centres. It signals that this Government is serious about transforming towns right across Wales.”

Mark Pritchard Leader of the Council said, “This is excellent news for town centres across Wales and we will be ensuring that Wrexham gets its fair share to help us build on the extensive and exciting developments and plans that are already taking place.

“We have met with the Minister and she is fully supportive of our ambitions within the town centre.”

Ian Bancroft Chief Executive added, “The Council is committed to town centre development and with a growing common purpose from all partners about the town centre we would hope that this adds weight to the argument that Wrexham town centre is ready now for this investment.”

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