LLANELLI is line for a multi-million pound boost after Carmarthenshire Council secured another chunk of Levelling Up Fund money from the UK Government.
The council has been awarded a provisional sum of £15.5 million to improve the look of the town’s central square, Spring Gardens and Cowell Street, and regenerate the former Woolworth’s building on Vaughan Street.
Seven of Wales’s 22 councils shared £111 million as part of the latest Levelling Up Fund announcement. The UK Government explained that the winning projects were high-quality bids from the second round of applications rather than new ones.
This was echoed by Carmarthenshire Council, which confirmed its Llanelli bid was from the previous round. The authority’s plan for the old Woolworths store on Vaughan Street is to provide flexible co-working and office space, business support space, and a town centre base for various groups.
The council has indicated that there could be some changes to the project, but nothing substantially different. It said the UK Government recognised that adjustments may need to be made due to inflationary pressures.
Cllr Hazel Evans, cabinet member for regeneration, leisure, culture and tourism, said: “We welcome the Levelling Up Fund’s decision to approve our bid for funding for Llanelli town centre and look forward to revisiting the proposal with UK Government officials and stakeholders and exploring the possible opportunities to further develop the vibrancy of the town centre and its economic well-being.”
Discount retailer Poundstretcher currently leases the former Woolworth’s building on a short-term licence.
Carmarthenshire Council secured project funding in the first round of Levelling Up Fund applications: £17 million to take forward the Towy Valley cycle path between Carmarthen and Llandeilo; plus a share of £20 million to convert the former Debenhams store in Carmarthen into a town centre hub – some of the money was allocated for a new town centre hub in Pembroke, Pembrokeshire.
The Levelling Up Fund is one of four pots of UK Government money which ministers have allocated to revitalise town centres, improve transport links and support people back into work. Opponents have argued that it doesn’t make up for the loss of European Union funding post-Brexit, while others have criticised the competitive nature of the first two rounds of Levelling Up Fund applications.
Another winner in the latest announcement was Neath Port Talbot Council, which was awarded £27 million for two bids, including £15 million to regenerate Port Talbot town centre with improvements to Civic Square and the refurbishment of Princess Royal Theatre.
Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said: “Levelling up means delivering local people’s priorities and bringing transformational change in communities that have, for too long, been overlooked and undervalued.”
Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies said: “From town centre regeneration to improving travel infrastructure, these schemes will have a positive impact for generations to come.”