New £15m Wales town centre fund launched by Welsh Government

A new fund to boost Welsh towns has been launched to help towards supporting markets, revamp properties, fill vacant buildings and new travel schemes.

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, Hannah Blythyn announced a £15.2m ‘placemaking’ funding package to help Wales’s town centres ‘build back better’.

It’s part of a wider £110m investment through Transforming Towns, the Welsh Government’s town centre regeneration programme.

The new funding package, available to all of Wales’s Local Authorities, will offer support for a wide range of projects, from green infrastructure developments and the creation of active travel routes, to internal and external improvements for business owners,

In addition, the funding will support the improvement of town centre markets, create new uses for vacant buildings, and drive activity to support Welsh Government’s ‘digital towns’ agenda.

One lead authority within each region will be administering the fund.

Wrexham County Borough Council has been selected for North Wales, Powys County Council for Mid-Wales and Rhondda Cynon Taf for south east Wales. Meanwhile, Swansea County Council will be responsible for funding allocations in south west Wales.

Those eligible to apply for funding include local authorities, town centre businesses, Business Improvement Districts and Town and Community Councils.

Station Road, Colwyn Bay

Welsh Government said it was part of its ‘Town Centre First’ initiative and long-term ambition for 30% of the Welsh population to work from, or closer to home — through repurposing vacant buildings into co-working hubs and encouraging public sector organisations to set up offices in town centre locations.

Superfast Business Wales’s work to improve connectivity across Wales will further aid this, with businesses and individuals encouraged to explore their connectivity options and make more of digital.

Hannah Blythyn, Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government, said: “Our town centres are unique, special places. Each town has its own proud history, sense of place and memory — with many of lives shaped by the towns we have grown up in, moved-to or visited.

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government Hannah Blythyn at the Queens Indoor Market in Rhyl. She officially announced a Transforming Towns package on behalf of the Welsh Government and it’s set to be worth more than £80m to develop town centres like Rhyl. Photo by Ian Cooper

“However, we know that towns in Wales are facing huge challenges in light of Covid-19, which is why the Welsh Government is committed to doing everything we can to ensure our town centres not only survive but thrive in the future.

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“By offering Welsh local authorities the broadest and most flexible package of support through our new placemaking fund, we have enabled our regional partners to decide upon the most appropriate mix of interventions and how to put them into practice effectively in towns across Wales.

“Together with wider Transforming Towns programme grants, this will help us to re-build our Welsh towns and to realise wider plans set out by Welsh Government — to open up new, local economic opportunities while creating sustainable places for the people of Wales to live, work, learn and enjoy.”