A blueprint has been revealed in order to try and regenerate Flintshire’s ailing town centres.
It comes as concerns have been raised about the declining state of the county’s high streets as shoppers increasingly choose to buy online or at out-of-town shopping centres.
The area has been badly hit by the closure of banks, particularly in Buckley which lost its last bank in 2018.
Flintshire Council has now set out a number of proposals in a bid to arrest the slump.
It includes the potential creation of Business Improvement Districts, where traders pay a levy into a central kitty to fund improvements aimed at attracting more customers.
The local authority said it was already looking into the possibility of setting one up in Mold.
Cllr Derek Butler, the council’s cabinet member for economic development, said there would also need to be a reduction on the reliance on shops to pull visitors into town centres by creating more living space.
In a report, the Labour politician said: “Concerns (have been) expressed by scrutiny committee members over the vitality of Flintshire town centres and the need for the council to establish a proactive response.
“Nationally, town centres are facing challenging economic circumstances due to changing behaviour by shoppers and the retail industry.
“The loss of high street banks has been more significant in several Flintshire towns.
“This has, in turn, impacted on the scale and vitality of the street markets in the county.
“A more fundamental shift in approach is needed to respond to the challenges facing town centres.”
Towns in Flintshire are said to have approximately the same number of shop units as they did in their heyday.
Research carried out by the British Property Federation in 2016 suggested many towns now have too many shops, and recommended they should be restructured around one core area with outlying locations converted to new uses.
Cllr Butler highlighted work which has been carried out in Holywell reopen the high street to traffic on a trial basis as an example of how places can be rejuvenated.
He said the authority had also supported Buckley Town Council in developing a long term action plan for the town.
He added that the North Wales Growth Bid had the potential to bring ‘significant benefits’ to the area.
Setting out other measures which could be introduced, he said: “Overall, developer interest, especially in retail and office investment, is extremely limited and land availability for development in many town centres is constrained.
“The council will respond proactively to market interest in town centre investment and will actively seek to encourage investment wherever there are appropriate opportunities.
“It will continue to support front line service outlets in town centre locations to enable access to council and partner services whilst also helping to sustain footfall.
“In order to support the physical adaptations needed to help town centres to adapt to the economic climate the council will facilitate land use change by starting, subject to the availability of capital resources and detailed investigation into commercial viability, to acquire key sites for redevelopment, and taking advantage of potential investment in transport infrastructure by Welsh Government.”
He added: “The council will help businesses to adapt to the changing economic climate by supporting the development of Business Improvement Districts (BID), where viable.
“The feasibility of developing a BID in Mold town centre is currently being investigated.”
The report is set to be discussed by member’s of the council’s community and enterprise scrutiny committee at a meeting on Wednesday, 1 May.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).