Town-centre Regeneration in Pembrokeshire

1. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Housing, Local Government and Planning – in the Senedd at on 12 June 2024.

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Photo of Paul Davies Paul Davies Conservative

(Translated)

5. What is the Welsh Government doing to help regenerate town centres in Pembrokeshire? OQ61223

Photo of Julie James Julie James Labour 2:19, 12 June 2024

Diolch, Paul. Since January 2020 we have awarded almost £16 million of funding through our Transforming Towns programme to support regeneration projects in town centres across Pembrokeshire. This support is being driven by placemaking plans for each settlement.

Photo of Paul Davies Paul Davies Conservative

Cabinet Secretary, I listened very carefully to your earlier responses regarding towns and town centres, and I'm sure we are all concerned about the decreasing number of shops in town centres like Haverfordwest, which, coupled with bank closures, is having a real impact on the vibrancy of towns like Haverfordwest. Now, I appreciate that the way in which we shop and bank has changed over the years, but it's vital that efforts are made to regenerate our town centres so that they can actually play a role in developing cohesive communities in the future. Therefore, can you tell us what the Welsh Government is doing to make high streets an attractive prospect for businesses and can you also tell us what discussions you're having with the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy and Welsh Language about the regeneration of town centres in Pembrokeshire?

Photo of Julie James Julie James Labour 2:20, 12 June 2024

Yes, certainly, Paul. So, in Pembrokeshire itself, we're helping Pembrokeshire put together something called placemaking plans. They're bringing forward placemaking plans for specific settlements across Pembrokeshire, and that includes Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Fishguard, Goodick, for example. So, they have very specific plans for each one, and in response to a number of questions today, I've talked about the need to have those specific plans, because we want individual towns with individual plans and individual characters. We know that that's what attracts people to them, and it's very important to have the right fit for that town and to help that town come to terms with the new reality of how people shop, bank and so on, and to make sure that there are destination places where people want to come together and have coffee or whatever it is they want to do, but then they can have the opportunity to take in a local retail experience and other things.

So, we do provide small grants of up to £250,000 for small-scale regeneration projects, specifically for smaller town centres and regional or sub-city town centres as well. We are trying very hard to work with the local authority to make sure that we don't have a one-size-fits-all approach and we do have a very local flavour to what those placemaking plans look like. So, I'd very much hope that you're involved in that. If you're not, do let me know and I'll make sure that you are involved in that. I think it is very important that local democratic representatives do have a say in that and are able to represent their constituencies in making those plans, because I think it's in all of our interests to make sure that we have the best offer in those small town centres to make sure that we can attract the footfall back.