* One of Llangollen's long-term empty properties.
Mike Edwards, chair of Keep Llangollen Special, attended the National Regeneration Summit 2012 at Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay last week.
Here, specially for llanblogger, he gives impressions of what it meant for Llangollen.
|* Mike Edwards
The summit, which I attended on behalf of Keep Llangollen Special, focused on the problems facing town centres and local economies in the difficult financial climate the country is enduring.
There were a number of interesting speakers and workshops examining amongst other things
community empowerment and innovative ways of endeavouring to solve the varying problems facing towns up and down Wales.
The Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage addressed the conference and drew particular attention to the consultation document "Vibrant & Viable Places" which sets out a new regeneration framework and the consultation which is open until January 14 for all interested parties to make their representations on the proposed framework.
Town and city centres up and down Wales are suffering badly in the current economic climate, as revealed in recent data from the BRC that 11.3% of shops were vacant across the UK, but that 15.1% of retail units were currently vacant across Wales.
Up to now Llangollen has fared relatively well in this respect with only a small number of shops being vacant in the defined town area, but there are a number of other properties which have been vacant for years and stand derelict and are eyesores in the town.
It was interesting to hear from one speaker from Denbighshire CC saying that in other parts of the local authority's area they had stepped in to break this cycle of decline and acquired such properties for regeneration projects – perhaps these approaches will be taken in Llangollen to protect an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Site Buffer Zone?
Keep Llangollen Special consider that Denbighshire's approval of a planning application to build an out-of- town supermarket in contravention of the Welsh Government’s planning policies in relation to protection of town centres and sustainable development will have a severe impact on the vibrancy and viability of Llangollen town centre.
In addition to this Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board intend to close the Community Hospital in 2013 and eventually relocate the GP Health Centre to an edge of town location and possibly take with it other facilities such as dental, chemist and support health services which are currently available to residents in a central town location.
Denbighshire CC is totally out of touch with the community it serves in Llangollen and the Welsh Government’s thinking on vibrant and viable places and their statement that: "Everybody in Wales should live in vibrant, viable and sustainable communities with a strong local economy."
We call upon Denbighshire to address these issues and develop strategies to deal with vacant unused and underused properties in Llangollen and protect and develop and properly market the "brand" of Llangollen and its numerous independent shops and supporting local supplier network.