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Welsh Government announces £90m boost to transform towns

The Welsh Government has announced a £90m programme to transform town centres around the country.

The Transforming Towns package includes £36m for town centre regeneration projects and £13.6m to tackle empty and dilapidated buildings and land.

The administration has also unveiled a new ‘Town Centre First’ approach, which means locating public services and buildings in town centres wherever possible.

According to the Welsh deputy local government minister, Hannah Blythyn, the funding signals that ‘this Government is serious about transforming towns right across Wales’.

The package also includes £2m for coastal towns to support projects to an anticipated value of £3m, which will contribute to town centre regeneration.

The Welsh Government will also make £10m of additional funding available for the Town Centre Loans scheme, taking the total to £41.6m, to bring vacant and underutilised buildings back into use.

And £5m funding will also be provided for green infrastructure and biodiversity within town centres.

According to the Welsh Government, this will support greening projects which will deliver environmental benefits and make town centres more attractive places to visit.

‘Towns are incredibly important to the people and places of Wales, and they are incredibly important to me personally,’ added Ms Blythyn.

‘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,’ she added.

‘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.’

The Welsh Local Government Association’s (WLGA) regeneration spokesman, Cllr Rob Stewart, added: ‘I welcome the Town Centre First approach, which will ensure that their strategic importance is considered in any new planning and investment decisions.

‘Local authorities recognise the value of town centres for whole communities, which is why many councils have decided to open new civic offices, public sector offices, one stop shops, or schools in their local town centres,’ added Cllr Stewart.

‘Although a town centre location will not be appropriate for all services and facilities, this approach will ensure that these locations are given primary consideration, and that any decisions for locating elsewhere should be backed by evidence.’

Photo Credit – Jamie Hailstone

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