Planning for the future of Mid Wales towns gets underway

A four-week exercise to seek the views of businesses, residents, and visitors on the future of Powys town centres has begun.

Broad Street, Newtown showing the vans used at the market. .
Broad Street, Newtown showing the vans used at the market. .

The county council says the Covid-19 crisis has had a significant impact on the lives and health of many Powys citizens, but it has also had severe economic consequences. The lockdown had an immediate impact on the way town centres operate with many businesses adapting the way in which they have worked to ensure that their local communities were provided with the services and goods they needed throughout the pandemic.

“To encourage the public back into our town centres and to help businesses open safely and in compliance with ongoing restrictions and regulations, it was important to make some temporary changes to how some of our town centres had traditionally worked,” Councillor Heulwen Hulme, cabinet member for highways said.

“There will be no quick fix to recover from the Covid-19 crisis, social distancing and the need for personal protection measures will be with us for some time.”

The temporary measures for social distancing were put in place following discussions with representatives of each the town to facilitate businesses trading, by providing outdoor space for their customers, and for pedestrians to social distance as they walk along pavements.

These temporary measures have highlighted that town centres can evolve and make use of the highway space differently.

The pandemic has given rise to an element of café culture being experienced within our towns and an enthusiasm for embracing our outside areas, which is something that might be considered appropriate to retain post pandemic restrictions.

“We are aware that high streets have changed over the recent years and the pandemic has accelerated that change by several years, especially with greater reliance on online shopping etc. We must therefore seek to address that change and aid the recovery of our town centres by making them destinations that people want to visit, with resilient and viable businesses and strong communities.

“As we begin to plan for a safe, resilient future, this is the opportunity to look at things differently and rebalance our public spaces. Whilst some businesses may consider it is essential to park within the high streets, this does not always provide the attractive spaces which will draw people to that town. We therefore need to consider the balance of the needs of the shops and businesses and the availability of parking and develop proposals that meet the needs of the changing high streets."

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