The Welsh government has confirmed that £5m of loan funding will be made available to support the regeneration of town centres.
The new funding, confirmed today by the Welsh deputy minister for climate change Lee Waters, will be part of the investment programme Transforming Towns.
Transforming Towns provided local authorities with access to £100m between 2018 to 2021. To date, £60m in loan funding has gone to support town centre regeneration.
Speaking today during a visit to Bangor, Lee Waters said that Wales needed ‘joined-up intervention to lift town centres, and an effort to tackle out-of-town development.’
He also announced that the Welsh government was setting up a Ministerial Town Centre Action Group to lead on development in town centres.
The deputy minister was responding on behalf of the Welsh government to two major reports on town centre regeneration.
Small Towns, Big Issues and Regenerating Town Centres in Wales – prepared by Professor Karel Williams of the Manchester Business School and Audit Wales respectively – call for ambitious leadership backed by cross-government decision making.
The reports include a raft of recommendations from improving access to public transport and effective promotion of town centres to the simplification of funding streams.
The deputy minister also stressed the need to focus on dealing with out of town developments.
‘Town and city centres are the places most of us can walk to, or get public transport from, and they provide common access points into many transport routes,’ said Mr Waters.
‘We want better jobs and services in town centres where people can access them without needing to get in their car.
‘Both reports make clear that we have all failed to control out of town development and we need to mobilise alliances for change in our town centres to turn things round.
‘Our Town Centre First principle, embedded in Wales’ national development plan Future Wales, means that town and city centre sites should be the first consideration for all decisions on the location of workplaces and services.’
Speaking at a round table at Bangor’s Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre, the deputy minister outlined the immediate action the Welsh government would take.
‘Today, I am pleased to confirm that our Ministerial Town Centre Action Group, which I will lead and will include our key stakeholders for town centre regeneration, will oversee the implementation of the recommendations made in both reports,’ he said.
‘In addition to this, I am establishing three sub-groups, one of which will lead on finding ways to incentivise town centre development but also disincentive out of town development.
‘A second group will look at how we can further streamline the funding offer under the Transforming Towns programme and simplify its processes.
‘The final group will look at planning and engaging with communities so that they have a say in what happens in their town.
‘With the oversight and challenge of my ministerial group, these groups will develop the solutions needed to secure the sustainability of our towns for future generations.’
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