Wales

Flintshire town centres blueprint calls for fewer shops

Holywell town centre
Image caption Allowing cars back onto Holywell High Street on a trial basis has already been welcomed

Town centres should be less reliant on shops to attract visitors, a leading councillor has said.

It comes as a blueprint is revealed to try and regenerate Flintshire's ailing high streets, hit by bank closures and shoppers going online or out of town.

Councillor Derek Butler, county cabinet member for economic development, said creating homes could boost vitality.

Traders could also be urged to pay into a central kitty to fund improvements to attract visitors to their area.

Business improvement districts (BIDs) are already being explored in other parts of Wales, and Mold is under consideration to be the first one in Flintshire, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Image caption Bank closures have had an impact on the vitality of street markets such as that in Flint

In a report to be discussed next week, Mr Butler said town centres everywhere were facing "challenging" economic circumstances through changing behaviour by shoppers and the retail industry.

However, he said the loss of high street banks had been more significant in Flintshire than the closure of major store chains.

Bank closures had "impacted on the scale and vitality" of street markets in the county, he said.

A "more fundamental shift in approach" to high street regeneration is needed, Mr Butler added.

"The built fabric of town centres needs to change to reflect a new reality where only a small proportion of local earnings are spent in town centres, and where roles such as service provision, space for social interaction and living space are becoming increasingly important," he said.

Measures already being explored include work in Holywell to reopen the high street to traffic, and support for a long-term action plan by the town council in Buckley, which saw its last bank close in 2018.

The council will also maintain its own town centre presence of Flintshire Connects offices, Councillor Butler added, and look at buying key sites for redevelopment depending on resources.

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