Evaluating the Future of Welsh Towns - FSB

Project categories: 
Town centre
Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

To examine the future of Wales’ towns and the policies needed today to shape how towns look, feel and respond to their long-term challenges.

March 2018 – August 2018
Project Description: 

The Welsh government has acknowledge through its various policies that towns have been impacted by the global and local factors set out above. Consumer habits have changed and the role and function of our town centres need to change in order to meet these challenges. Over the last ten years there has been a welcome focus on the regeneration of town centres in Wales. Housing played a large part in regeneration policy and there have been various attempts in recent years to bring housing back to town centres with many local authorities using Vibrant and Viable places and the Town Centre Loan scheme for housing to fund development of derelict buildings into flats or apartments, often above newly refurbished retail units.

There has been a move away from the more one-dimensional physical regeneration policies and a shift towards building more nuanced responses, involving a wider range of stakeholders, including support for developing Town Centre Partnerships in 20 towns and significant investment in the development of Business Improvement Districts across the country (The means being involved in nine of the 12 that are now in existence).

Towns are more than simply commercial centres and The means has been close to the development of a whole-place approach. Welsh Government has realised that local communities need to be equipped with the tools and support to make change happen. There is support for locally-led coalitions as suggested in the Deep Place Studies carried out in Tredegar (2014) and Pontypool (2016). The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act takes this idea further and actively encourages public bodies to think more about the long term, work better with people, communities and each other, look to prevent problems and to take a more joined-up approach. The recent announcement of the Targeted Regeneration Investment programme for 2018-2021 continues the focus on partnership working, with local authorities having to apply with partner organisations for up to £100 million of capital investment in line with the aims set out in Prosperity for All.

So, important building blocks are being put in place but there remains a lot to do before the future sustainability of our towns and the communities that depend on them can be ensured. Towns are major local economic drivers and important for many entry-level jobs. This study aims to contribute to the new thinking required to ensure town centres are able to survive and thrive for years to come.

Through desk research, surveys, interviews and focus groups The means is looking at 12 different Welsh towns, along with wider trends, to explore the future of Welsh towns and associated policy levers.

We are excited to be working with the Federation of Small Businesses and their membership to deliver this research and will be periodically publishing findings along the way.