Campaign aims to take over Oswestry's empty buildings
Empty properties in Oswestry could be compulsorily purchased as part of a move to bring life back into the town, a task force has said.
The Future Oswestry group says business support and buildings in the town centre are some of its key priorities.
It wants to identify the owners of empty properties and look at alternative uses for them.
Set up by Shropshire Council, Oswestry Town Council and the Oswestry BID to look at the future of the town, the group says there should be more residential accommodation above the shops.
One of its members, Shropshire Council deputy leader Steve Charmley, said it was building on work done by the Oswestry 20/20 and the Transport and Townscape bodies.
Councillor Charmley said Oswestry BID has already set up a meeting with commercial agents to look at the problem of empty properties.
"We want to identify the owners of all the buildings in the town centre and look at which buildings are empty and the physical state of each one," he said.
"What we would like to do is explore ways of revitalising those empty buildings that are in good locations and have potential.
"Shropshire Council has the power to use compulsory purchase orders to get these buildings back into use.
"We also want to speak to town centre businesses to ask them what they believe would improve their retail potential."
Councillor Charmley, who heads up the unitary authority's economic development department, said he believed it was vital to get young people back into the town centre.
"One thing we are keen to explore is to have a smaller retail footprint and to encourage the creation of residential use above the shops. This would not only revive the daytime but also the night-time economy," he said.
Earlier this year the town lost out in a bid for funding from the government's High Street funding initiative.
Shrewsbury and Oswestry both failed to secure a slice of the government’s £675 million fund to revitalise their high streets.
The authority had hoped to attract up to £25 million for each town from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Councillor Charmley said it was still possible to get funding from the second tranche of the initiative.
"We are looking at both the bids and tweaking them so that we can apply for the next release of grants," he said.
"The work we are doing in Oswestry will help with evidence as to what we are doing locally to improve the situation."