Councils have welcomed a £5 million boost for seven town centres in Wales, announced today by the Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister, Lesley Griffiths.
The capital funding will be loaned to seven local authorities for up to 15 years to be spent on town centres in Tredegar, Rhymney, Grangetown, Llanelli, Rhyl, Caernarfon and Barry. During this time, the council can recycle and re-invest the funding in different projects which aim to improve their town centres and bring empty buildings back into use.
Such improvements will help create jobs and encourage economic growth, increase the number of homes available within town centres and make them a more diverse, vibrant and attractive place to visit.
Announcing the funding, Lesley Griffiths said: “Town centres play a vital role in community life and this loan funding will help bring about improvements in the areas which need it the most.
“This £5 million will be used by the seven Local Authorities over the next fifteen years to improve town centres across Wales. By making our town centres more attractive and accessible, we hope to increase visitor numbers and give local businesses and communities a boost.”
The seven local authorities to be supported by the Town Centre Loan scheme are part of the Welsh Government’s Tackling Poverty Fund areas and have been identified as areas with a high level of deprivation and in need of support.
Cllr Neil Moore (Vale of Glamorgan), WLGA spokesperson for regeneration said:
"I welcome the £5million capital funding that will be made available as a loan to seven town centres in Wales. This offers a relatively small but important contribution to support the vital role local town centres can and should play, within the heart of our communities.
“Our town centres are assets to be nurtured and the revolving nature of this loan will help ensure that the economic benefits from one project can be recycled locally to fund further developments. This will allow for a longer term approach to be taken to town centre regeneration, while also giving local businesses a much needed economic boost.
“As the funding comes in the form of a loan, the projects supported will need to be able to generate a return so that the loan can be recycled and ultimately repaid to Welsh Government. The councils involved, including my own, will now consider this opportunity and how they might utilise their local knowledge and links with developers and partners in the public, private and third sectors to make our town centres more diverse, attractive and accessible.
"Whilst it is acknowledged that the £5m made available within the identified town centres is based on their economic need and the commercial opportunities will initially be limited, by investing wisely and by working closely with local businesses to build capacity, local councils can work to ensure that their local town centres can remain relevant and sustainable well into the future.”
The Welsh Government will work with the local authorities over coming months to discuss how the programme will operate in each area. The loan funding can be used by local authorities to develop sites, buy and upgrade properties to be sold on the open market and provide loans to third party organisations such as property owners, housing associations and private landlords.