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Council lays out ambitions to make town ‘attractive and prosperous’

19 Apr 2024 3 minute read
An aerial view of Blackwood. Credit: CCBC

Nicholas Thomas Local Democracy Reporter

A new masterplan for a town with over 29 empty shops will show traders and investors the area is “a great place to do business,” according to a council’s deputy leader.

Caerphilly County Borough Councillors agreed on Thursday April 18 to the blueprint, which outlines how the local authority intends to attract investment to the town and surrounding area.

The council wants to make Blackwood an “attractive and prosperous place in which people choose to live, work and spend their free time”.

Key aims include making the area a local commercial “hub”, bringing in more visitors, improving transport links and community facilities, and building more houses.

The town centre will be “busy and sociable both during the day and at night”, and the economy will be “strong and varied”, the council said in its vision for the area.

Ambition

Deputy leader Jamie Pritchard, also the cabinet member for regeneration, said the masterplan was a “document of ambition” and told colleagues to think about “what can be done, rather than what can’t be achieved”.

But local councillors called on decision-makers to provide more detail on how it would bring more visitors to Blackwood and revive its high street.

Kevin Etheridge said that with “vast amounts of funds being channelled into Caerphilly town centre, other towns should be treated equally”.

He urged the council to consider how to maximise development of Blackwood’s Market Square and its Chartist heritage.

Fellow ward councillor Nigel Dix, meanwhile, noted Welsh Government reductions in business rates support and sounded the alarm about the number of empty shops in the high street.

“Blackwood’s already got 29 empty shops”, he said, adding he had “never seen so many” vacant units.

Regeneration

Cllr Pritchard told the meeting that the members of the council should “be positive”, and said the masterplan offers a “route forward” towards regenerating the greater Blackwood area.

“There is evidence to show when there is positive engagement with the business community, things can happen,” he added.

The deputy leader explained that a masterplan was “required” if the council was to secure Welsh Government funding for any projects.

Rhian Kyte, the council’s head of regeneration and planning, said lucrative government schemes such as the Transforming Towns programme were “predicated on a placemaking plan being in place”.

She added that the masterplan was developed on the basis the council was trying to increase footfall in the area, and noted Caerphilly Council – unlike some other local authorities – had chosen to regenerate existing high streets, rather than be tempted by out-of-town shopping.


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Glwyo
Glwyo
1 month ago

I always find it odd how landlords are able to leave shops derelict for so long without the magic of the free market causing the rental price to fall. Perhaps there should be some action taken to control those leaving commercial properties vacant, just as is now being done for houses.

It’s too bad that restoring the railway in the valley (not to mention the east-west railways that once crossed the Valleys) is politically impossible. The only ideas I anticipate seeing these days is more free on-street parking.

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