Town and village centres are the heart of their communities. As shopping centres, they have been under threat from the growth of out-oftown superstores and retail parks, and the phenomenal growth of internet shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Plaid Cymru Government would:
- Make management of town centres with 30 or more commercial premises a statutory responsibility of local councils. This would include the appointment of managers to co ordinate town centre investment, maintenance, and promotion, including the production of Town Centre Action Plans.
- Allocate capital and revenue funding for a Wales Urban Renaissance Programme to be renewed on a five-yearly basis.
- Harness the potential of remote and distributed working by creating a national network of serviced co-working centres in every community in Wales. To perpetuate remote working before the habit is lost, the first wave of superfast remote working hubs should be in place and ready for action within a few months using empty buildings such as banks, post offices and shops in town centres and empty chapels or pubs in smaller communities.
- Legislate to protect cultural venues from demolition, redevelopment, or loss of licence due to encroachment.
- Provide more investment and financial support for social infrastructure, including community spaces, libraries, and parks, and providing improved access for the disabled.
- Where appropriate make the upper floors of town centre premises rate-free and revise planning guidance for such premises to facilitate their conversion to residential, office or other employment uses.
- Where appropriate make town centres with very high vacancy rates (20 per cent plus), rate-free Enterprise Zones with a package of other aid and advice provided by Prosperity Wales, our new enterprise agency.
- Empower local authorities to take action on empty high street land and buildings including providing long leases for sub-lets to local organisations, businesses and initiatives to promote the local presence of a diverse range of organisations on the high street.
- Assist business to move from the periphery to create viable and lively centres.
- Introduce a new category (Grade III) of listed buildings – Buildings of local importance – that will need planning permission before being significantly altered or demolished.