FLINTSHIRE towns in need of regeneration will see a cash injection of nearly £2.5m – but the money will need to be repaid.
The council’s cabinet has welcomed funding from the Welsh Government earmarked to spruce up town centres hit by empty premises and a lack of visitors.
Paid in the form of a loan, the money will be distributed to businesses and used for council projects and will be paid back in future years.
A report on the Town Centre Regeneration Loans was presented by cabinet member for the economy, Caergwrle Cllr Dave Healey (Lab) who explained to members the purpose of the funding is to reduce the number of vacant, underutilised and redundant sites and premises in town centres.
It will also support the diversification of the town centres by encouraging more sustainable uses for empty sites and premises, such as residential, leisure and for key services.
According to the report, these loans will be used to invest in projects which match up with the council’s regeneration priorities as part of its Place Making Plan development process.
In February a series of public meetings and digital consultations were delivered on Place Making Plans for Buckley, Holywell and Shotton with more than 4,400 people taking part.
More consultations are to be carried out as part of the development process for each of the remaining four Place Making Plans for Connah’s Quay, Flint, Mold and Queensferry.
Information gathered from consultations with residents, businesses, internal and external colleagues will directly inform the content of Flintshire’s Place Plans over the next two years.
Consultation findings will help to influence how repayable loans and non-repayable grant funding should be invested in the future.
Addressing the cabinet, Cllr Healey said: “By making repayable loan funding available, Welsh Government’s aim with this is to facilitate the delivery of its strategic regeneration policy frameworks which seek to increase footfall and vibrancy, support the growth of the local economy, diversify the use of premises within the town centre.
“This is valuable funding which will help all of our priority areas.”
The council’s enterprise and regeneration manager Niall Waller added: “The loans are predominantly meant for businesses and we have got a number of businesses interested so this will give us the green light to continue the negotiation processes and issue those loans.”
The report to councillors presented by Cllr Healey gives a breakdown of where the money will be spent;
- £860,000 from the Vibrant and Viable Places initiative repayable by March 31, 2030.
- £840,000 Town Centre Loans (for administering to third parties), repayable by March 31, 2036.
- £750,000 Town Centre Loans (for use by the Council to deliver regeneration projects), repayable by March 31, 2036.
Ahead of receiving the funding the council has trialled the criteria and process by issuing two repayable loans.
A £100,000 loan has been given to Holywell Town Council for town centre improvement works. This has since been repaid in full by the town council.
And a loan of £139,776 has also been given to the owner of a commercial property in the private sector in Queensferry with due diligence completed and a loan agreement issued to the applicant.
The cabinet voted to follow the recommendations that the repayable loan funding for Flintshire was acknowledged, and agreed the criteria described above for how it is managed and spent.