Town centre reopening plans being readied for when regulations allow return for all trading
Wrexham town centre will be ready to reopen when Welsh Government rules allow it, the Chief Executive of Wrexham Council has said.
With a wider reopening of the town centre taking place hopefully at some point this year we asked Ian Bancroft if there were any preparations and planning taking place ready for that moment, and if lessons had been learned following the reopening last year after previous lockdowns.
Mr Bancroft told us, “We’re obviously pretty experienced planning for reopening because we’ve been through it in terms of reopening and then having to shut down again. So what we’ll be doing is updating and adapting the plans that we put in place previously.”
“Obviously the figures are getting better at the moment, but realistically, we would hope for some relaxation over the coming weeks but the bulk of recovery is probably Easter to summer. That’s when we need to be thinking about implementing that phase of work, then we would hope the Autumn is a real stage and position where we’re able to have some sort of more normal approach to what things are happening.”
“So we need to review it day by day, but they’re the milestones that we’re working to. But absolutely, we’ve got plans, we’ll adapt those and we will work with partners once we know the decisions on restrictions and lifting of those that have been taken.”
Last night in an elongated meeting of the Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee the topic of pandemic response and recovery for the town centre was touched upon with the use of ‘click and collect’ briefly discussed.
Cllr Dana Davies suggested looking at a centralised platform to co-ordinate orders and click & collect spaces in town, and use that as a ‘driver’ to support not only new business but existing ones.
The officer said click and collect spaces worked well in its current format, and such ‘great’ new ideas should surface in future work from the committee.
The committee has also formed up a Task and Finish Group to consider the regeneration of the town centre in the post covid environment where more ideas could surface.
The meeting firmed up terms of reference, which will include looking at ways the town centre can be regenerated to meet the demands of a post covid economy, as well as look at what other similar towns are doing and if Wrexham can learn from them.
The town centre was also referenced in a short update on the “Wrexham BID”, or Business Improvement District. In simple terms a BID would see companies within a specified area pay a levy into a central pot to fund projects to improve the trading environment, however a successful ballot of traders would need to be carried out before the scheme is implemented.
Thee officer told the meeting, “There is still an appetite to pursue it, the funding is still there, but we didn’t go as far as to appoint the consultants to do the work last year because we had just interviewed and had selected consultants to do all of the feasibility and take it through to ballot just before lockdown. So it was put on hold. Now that’s elapsed, we’d have to go back out to tender on that. But it is still an expectation.
Top pic from last year: Members of the town centre team, Lead Member of the economy Cllr Terry Evans and Council Officer Becky Lowry, head of service for regeneration.
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