Radical intervention needed to save Wales city centers and town centers

“We need concerted interventions to lift the city centers, and an effort to fight against peri-urban development, if we are to succeed in redressing the situation.”

These are the words of Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters during a visit to Bangor today (Wednesday, September 8) as he revealed the Welsh government’s reaction to the release of two major regeneration reports downtown.

The Deputy Minister traveled to Bangor to meet with local leaders and heads of community organizations to discuss the findings of Professor Karel Williams ‘report’Small towns, big problems‘ and ‘Regenerating city centers in Wales”, Prepared by Audit Wales.

“Small Towns, Big Issues” follows an in-depth study of three Welsh towns and cities: Bangor, Bridgend and Haverfordwest. It was headed by Professor Karel Williams – professor at Manchester Business School – who also frequented Bangor with the Deputy Minister.

The two reports conclude that towns and city centers are at the heart of Welsh life, but that addressing the challenges they face requires “imagination and ambitious leadership”, supported by “coordinated decision-making and intergovernmental ”.

Specific recommendations for both the Welsh government and local authorities include everything from access to public transport and the effective promotion of city centers to simplifying funding flows.

The Deputy Minister also stressed the need to focus on developments outside the city.

“Cities and town centers are the places where most of us can walk or take public transport, and they provide common access points to many transport routes,” he said. .

“We want better jobs and services in city centers where people can access them without having to get in their cars. “

“Both reports make it clear that not all of us have been successful in controlling development outside the city and we need to mobilize alliances for change in our inner cities to turn the tide.

“Our Town Center First principle, embedded in Wales’ national development plan, Future Wales, means that city and town center locations should be the first consideration in all decisions regarding the location of workplaces. and services.

Speaking at a panel discussion at the Pontio Arts and Innovation Center in Bangor, the Deputy Minister described the immediate steps the Welsh government would take.

“Today, I am pleased to confirm that our Ministerial Downtown Action Group, which I will lead and include our key stakeholders for downtown 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 to finding ways to encourage development in the city center but also to discourage development outside the city.

“A second group will be looking at how we can further streamline the financing offering under the Transforming Towns program and simplify its processes.

“The final group will look at planning and engaging with communities so that they have a say in what is happening in their city. “

“With the oversight and challenge of my ministerial group, these groups will develop the solutions necessary to ensure the sustainability of our cities for future generations. “

The Deputy Minister also confirmed that the Welsh Government will make additional funding of £ 5million available for Transforming Towns this fiscal year – funding of £ 60million has already been provided to support the regeneration of the center -city. “

“This additional funding shows our commitment to revitalize our downtowns and put them at the heart of everything we do,” he said.

“I can’t wait to see how this money is invested in opportunities to improve our city centers”

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