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The Regeneration of Towns in Wales Presentation to RTPI & ESPON ‘Planning for the Future of Small and Medium Sized Towns’ event 17 th September 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "The Regeneration of Towns in Wales Presentation to RTPI & ESPON ‘Planning for the Future of Small and Medium Sized Towns’ event 17 th September 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Regeneration of Towns in Wales Presentation to RTPI & ESPON ‘Planning for the Future of Small and Medium Sized Towns’ event 17 th September 2014

2 Regeneration in Wales Key aspect of Welsh Government policy. Designed to develop local economies in areas which have experienced economic and social decline. Various policy strands which tackle the issue, taking a bottom-up and top-down approach. Bottom up approaches - Communities First, local partnerships, and funding to support local initiatives. Physical Regeneration projects tend to be top-down, primarily due to the level of investment required and management of spending. A desire for all policy strands to work together. VVP Programme and recent merger of ministerial portfolio supporting this goal.

3 Town regeneration.. a bit of background….. ‘Stand alone’ retail schemes were widely promoted by the public sector to facilitate regeneration in declining urban centres. Regeneration based on an emerging concept of the ‘24 hour’ town and city during the 1990’s. Strong economy during 90’s and 00’s and finance readily available for retail- led regeneration. Flourishing economy masking resilience of small independent retailers ‘Conventional wisdom’ of retail-led regeneration now in question with lack of finance and appetite for investment. The reliance on ‘one off’ large scale investment in retail alone, for example, makes centres and communities more exposed and vulnerable to external market forces.

4 Too much retail space to service the current size of the UK economy. Growth of internet trading General dispersal of population and employment from town centres De-industrialisation associated with economic globalisation The closure of some big name national multiples which has diminished confidence levels from both a retail supply and demand perspective Lack of an understanding as to the importance of sustainable transport to facilitate connectivity between communities and their centres and mutually reinforcing retail centres (including between ‘in town’ and ‘out of town’ facilities). Lack of resilience in the independent retail sector Are towns declining, or just not developing properly?

5 Relevant national policy Labour government’s Urban Renaissance report (1999) Urban Task Force led by Richard Rogers Competitive and prosperous towns and cities Aspiration to achieve a good quality of life Urban White Paper (2000) Reaffirming the importance of stemming urban decline and facilitating an urban renaissance Planning Policy Wales and associated Technical Advice Notes The sequential approach to proposed development and use of land. The ‘Town Centre First’ policy. This to include all types of uses, not only retail. Town Centres and Retail Dynamics: Towards a Revised Retail Planning Policy for Wales. 2014Town Centres and Retail Dynamics: Towards a Revised Retail Planning Policy for Wales. 2014 Retail offer in Wales is heavily influenced by out-of-town Vibrant and Viable Places Framework Explicit reference to town centre regeneration Public investment support for 11 towns in Wales

6 Regenerating Town Centres Problems in towns are very visible Industrial decline and economic austerity has reduced local spending power. Towns still a focal point for most communities. Activities, services. The regeneration of town centres a principal aim of the Vibrant and Viable Places Programme. Regional centres likely to be able to rely on retail and associated jobs to contribute to the local economy. Sub-regional and local centres in a more fragile state. Exposure to external forces, and lack of local resilience. Retail is served by local demand. Regional centres better positioned? Other uses need to be found and supported in smaller towns.

7 What has been done in Wales to respond? Past physical regeneration programmes Tended to focus more on environmental works, improving public realm etc. Variable design quality Funding spread thinly across Wales due to previous area based regeneration policy More recently…and very much welcomed A commitment of £100M from the Welsh Government for town regeneration, to be shared by 11 towns. £5M ‘Tackling Poverty’ fund to share between 7 other deprived towns in Wales. Changes in the business rates system to help nurture fledgling businesses and to encourage the re-use of vacant units. Town Partnership Fund Town Centre Loan Fund However….and to consider… Public sector led town centre regeneration initiatives are often undermined by the countervailing force of new out of town development despite Welsh national planning policy and guidance.

8 Towards a better future for towns Business and enterprise entry to market Services provided within town centres still important. Adapt and change - towns have developed and adapted in the past, and that the fundamental infrastructure (roads, telecommunications etc.) is already in place to serve these centres. Locating employment sites in central locations to support the daytime economy. People like to network. Communal places crucial to innovation.

9 Towards a better future ……. developing an ‘extended menu’ Town Centre regeneration strategies to look at alternative future uses for land and property. More office space to encourage job growth and a vibrant week day economy Fit for purpose and well designed residential space Design and build for flexibility in use where possible. Distinctiveness Establish what makes a town unique in it’s own right Destination Management – positive perceptions What your town can offer above and beyond what is available on the internet Above all, town centres are key to improve social efficiency and social inclusion via personal encounters.

10 Towards a better future The importance of acting locally…and what can be achieved? Bringing together stakeholders and users Supporting and active engagement with partners Focus on establishing a well resourced Town Team and develop a regeneration strategy A public statement of commitment or intent? Consider what public services can be delivered via town centre outlets Local Service Board topic for discussion? Making a town accessible Consider walkers, cyclists, public transport and car users The availability of affordable car parking is important Provide good and convenient customer and visitor facilities Making a town ‘coach friendly’? Build and maintain relationships with the business community Consider assisting with the development of Business Improvement Districts.Business Improvement Districts

11 Towards a better future ……. The importance of acting locally…and what can be achieved? Facilitate the ‘shrinking back’ of vacant and over expanded retail cores ‘Live work’ residential units Work with, and encourage RSL’s to develop ‘in town’ residential units. Support for events Events are an excellent way of encouraging people to visit a town, and will boost it’s profile to a wide audience. Provide support and resources (in kind or other) for events which take place in town centres and make it easy to apply for an event license, road closure etc. Encourage the creative use of a town centre Arts projects in public spaces (IPP – Arts Council) Support individuals who are seeking meanwhile or temporary use space Music, entertainment

12 Marketing and Promotion Local marketing and press campaigns Coordinate campaigns with businesses and events Monitoring change and performance over time The importance of monitoring results and evaluating performance Establish benchmarks and conduct town health checks Undertake annual performance reviews, or even monthly if resources are available? Base evaluation the identified indicators of town centre decline (earlier in the presentation)

13 Town Centre Renewal In June, CREW hosted the Town Centre Renewal: The Continuing Role of Retail? conference in Wrexham 45+ delegates Key points from the day: “A Do Nothing Option” does not exist for Welsh Town Centres if they wish to remain competitive and retain occupancy i.e. there is a constant need to re-assess the overall offer to traders, customers, particularly in relation to overall experience / management / events etc. The pace of change is quickening with an expectation from customers that Towns and Shopping Centres must embrace and adopt the digitization of the high street in the form of Free Wi Fi / Click and Collect Services, as the use of mobile phone / tablet has become an addendum in any shopping trip to locate services and provide real time cost product comparisons. Customers are becoming more discerning particularly in relation to entertainment; food and beverage purchases and successful centres offer the full array of dining experience from cheap and cheerful to fine dining. The need for strong Civic Leadership and progressive partnerships with the private partnership is essential to facilitate flexibility in the planning system, land assembly and new funding models.

14 Town Centre Renewal Key points (continued) The use of Local Authority Compulsory Purchase Powers is seen as a way of addressing the current fragmented ownership of many town centres – but this appears to be a declining skill in many Local Authorities who have understandable concerns about the potential risk of financial and legal costs. Across the UK there is an emerging hierarchy in the form of Regional, Secondary and Local Shopping Centres. In the context of Wales how many of our shopping centres can be considered truly regional - 3-4? Acknowledgement that retail is just part of the mix for lasting town centre renewal. More information, including presentations and a review of the event can be found on the CREW website.CREW website

15 Developing a coherent strategy Prospectus over Masterplan? Used by other towns in the UK Gives more flexibility Ability to react quickly to market forces Depends very much on how it’s used, and whether it can be given enough weight in policy and spending decisions. How can planning powers support a strategic approach to town regeneration? Local and customised policy? Room for innovative approaches? Adopting prospectuses / Masterplans as local policies…SPG’s etc.

16 The skills required for regeneration Connective skills: The practices, attitudes and relationships that enable practitioners to work collaboratively, to merge organisational objectives and to recognise the shared responsibility for successful delivery. Delivery skills: The skills required to translate vision to successful completion of projects by combining and unifying the contributions of a wide range of agencies and actors. This and other topics the context of the Regeneration Summit in Swansea on the 23 rd October

17 The CREW Welsh Towns Network Re-launch of the network taking place in the Wales Regeneration Summit in October.Wales Regeneration Summit To create a national dialogue to address key issues Develop policy and delivery solutions Help to improve town performance in Wales More information can be found in the CREW websiteCREW website


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