Absentee landlords are putting plans to regenerate Flintshire’s town centres at risk, a senior councillor has warned.
A blueprint aimed at arresting the declining state of high streets was presented to members of Flintshire Council’s ruling Labour cabinet today.
It includes proposals to explore to the possibility of creating a Business Improvement District in Mold, where a levy would be charged to companies to fund projects in the town.
The report also highlighted the need for towns to have less shops and more living space in the future.
However, one politician who is part of the Labour administration said the authority was having difficulty contacting some landlords whose properties are in a poor state of repair.
Cllr Chris Bithell, who represents part of Mold, said: “An issue which I’ve been concerned about for some years is the properties in our town centre aren’t owned by local people.
“We’re dealing with absentee landlords based in Leeds, Manchester, London, Birmingham and so on.
“I think we find a great difficulty in establishing a rapport with property owners who are quite content to sit on those properties and not do a great deal with them.
“Money needs spending to bring those buildings back to their former glory and we’re not getting much support from those absentee landlords.”
A number of communities were praised during the meeting for their work to revitalise key shopping areas.
They include members of Holywell Town Council who worked with the county council to reopen Holywell High Street to traffic for the first time in 25 years.
The authority’s cabinet member for economic development has also pledged to meet with community leaders in Buckley after concerns were raised it was being left out of the regeneration plans.
But Cllr Derek Butler said the council had experienced difficulties in working with private landlords.
He said: “We have tried to engage with private landlords for many years, but tracking them down is the first problem as quite a few of them seem to have a postal address in the Isle of Man.
“We are trying to endeavour with the nighttime economy to increase footfall in towns by having people living above the shops and therefore the local spend increases.
“There are all kinds of grants out there that we’ve tried to promote from the Welsh Government to refurbish frontages and to refurbish upstairs rooms, but there is a great reluctance from absentee landlords to engage with those.
“It is a national problem but in the small towns it has a bigger impact than perhaps cities.” Cabinet members voted to approve the regeneration plans set out in the report.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).