More than £17 million of Welsh Government funding will be invested in regenerating town centres and bringing empty homes in the Valleys Taskforce area back into use.
Deputy Economy Minister and Chair of the Valleys Taskforce, Lee Waters has announced that the Welsh Government is setting aside £10 million to roll a successful empty homes scheme out across the Valleys Taskforce area, with the boundaries of the Taskforce now being extended to the Gwendraeth and Amman Valleys.
Lee Waters said:
Through our engagement work with communities living in the Valleys we have heard concerns around the high numbers of empty homes and the detrimental impact they can often have on the wider community.
The unsightly appearance of empty homes can cause a blight to communities and distress to residents, and can also attract crime and anti-social behaviour.
We also know that empty homes are also often a financial burden to both to the home owners and the Council and represent a missed opportunity to provide much needed affordable housing for local people.
For this reason I have decided to roll the successful Rhondda Cynon Taf Empty Homes Grant Scheme out across the whole Valleys Taskforce area. This will help regenerate communities, and provide more choice and suitable accommodation for residents.
This decision will also help to boost the economies of our valleys communities. The Rhondda Cynon Taf scheme has shown us that applicants are choosing local businesses to undertake their refurbishment work. We want to support and encourage this further, while also driving decarbonisation and other energy efficiency measures.
I am also pleased to announce we are extending the boundaries of the Valleys Taskforce to include the Gwendraeth and Amman Valleys. These areas are culturally very much part of the South Wales coalfield and our decision means they can benefit from ongoing work to drive investment and opportunities across the valleys, including through our new Empty Homes scheme.
To be eligible, homes would need to have been empty for at least 12 months. Applicants to the scheme are restricted to one grant per person and in cases where repair work exceeds £20,000, will have the option to apply for the Welsh Government’s Houses in to Homes scheme.
The Welsh Government has also announced it is investing around £7 million to support economic regeneration, business growth and job creation in key designated areas across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
This includes Llanelli Town Centre and Station Road, Ammanford Town Centre, Pembroke and Haverfordwest; Swansea city centre and Morriston.
Neath, Port Talbot and the Neath Port Talbot Valleys will all benefit from investment from the Targeted Regeneration Investment Programme which will be used to improve business shopfronts and bring vacant commercial floor space back into business use.
It will also support the conversion of vacant commercial space on upper floors into new homes.
The Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James said:
Our town centres are the heart and soul of our communities and we are committed to supporting them to grow.
This £7 million fund will help to revitalise towns and help businesses to thrive across South West Wales. It has the potential to create jobs and I’m looking forward to seeing the work take shape in the designated areas.
The combined projects will bring new business tenants and residents into the area, which will support the local economy and create a safer, more sustainable environment.
This project is an excellent example of how The Targeted Regeneration Investment Programme is breathing new life into old buildings, attracting employers, creating jobs and improving the appearance of communities.