CHANGE is happening in town centres across Carmarthenshire.
Carmarthenshire County Council is leading on the investment and development of Llanelli, Ammanford and Carmarthen’s central shopping areas, as well as the county’s 10 unique rural market towns.
Targeted efforts are being made to regenerate the towns as part of the council’s wide-ranging economic recovery plan, developed in partnership with independent business sector representatives to support the county as it emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bespoke plans have been devised for each main town, and the council is now working with the Ammanford Task Force, the Carmarthen Town Centre Forum and Llanelli Task Force to deliver on the recommendations made.
Each of the plans highlight key issues, opportunities and specific interventions for the individual town centres.
In Llanelli, the plan includes sustaining the convenience and local service role of the town centre and focusing on attracting families and younger people to visit more often, stay longer and spend more – creating a place for living, learning, leisure and entertainment with reasons to visit the centre during the day and at night.
Viable businesses will be safeguarded and new start-ups encouraged to support independent businesses to grow from within the town centre. Walking and cycling connections with the outer neighbourhoods will be improved to strengthen the town centre’s link with the coast. The town centre’s popular events and activities will be strengthened further, and the town’s green spaces will be used to create a stronger sense of place and distinctiveness.
In Carmarthen, activity will be concentrated on the central core of the town centre to create a greater mix of uses through the reuse and re-purposing of empty and underused buildings. Outdoor spaces will be improved, as will pedestrian and cycle linkages throughout the town.
Work will be undertaken to strengthen the leisure and hospitality facilities of the town centre to enhance the evening economy and develop tourist infrastructure, including the opportunity for a new hotel. Small and independent businesses will be encouraged to develop, grow and expand in the town centre, and the public sector presence in the town will be expanded with the development of a health and well-being, leisure and local services hwb to generate footfall ‘anchors’ and utilise empty premises.
In Ammanford, the focus will be on attracting local families and younger people through securing new leisure, education and cultural uses, to help broaden the range of activities on offer. Currently disjointed areas of the town centre will be unified through better-quality highway design, pedestrian links and the redesign of key open spaces.
The weekly market will be grown to include a greater number of stalls and new types of markets, and new and existing independent businesses will be supported to grow.
Throughout all the town centres, businesses will be supported to make best use of digital communications to grow their market reach, turnover and footfall; decarbonisation will be encouraged through low carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure, renewable energy and sustainable developments; and Welsh language and culture will be supported and promoted to celebrate Carmarthenshire’s identity.
A range of stakeholders are involved in delivering improvements for the town centres, and Carmarthenshire County Council will support the regeneration by securing funding opportunities and contributing its own capital funding.
Alongside the three main town centres, a programme of investment and support is being delivered to support the growth of 10 rural market towns.
Bespoke plans are being developed to benefit the town and surrounding areas of Cross Hands, Cwmaman, Kidwelly, Laugharne, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llanybydder, Newcastle Emlyn, St Clears and Whitland.
The development of the growth plans are part funded via the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Union.
Leader of the council, and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “These are exciting times for town centres across Carmarthenshire. We recognise that, similar to town centres across the UK, there has been a steady decline and we are determined to lay the foundations for change.
“Through a range of targeted interventions, we aim to create town centres that are more sustainable and each with a unique sense of identity.
“These changes are already starting to happen, and people will see the difference.
“What we need is for people to support their town centres and their local traders – we know that the internet is convenient, but every person that visits, shops, eats out and enjoys their leisure time in their town centre is playing a part in their survival.”
Find information about each of the town centre regeneration plans, and details of more county-wide development and investment, at www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales