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19 September 2014

The Welsh Housing Sector - backing local high streets to help communities thrive and keep the Welsh

Community Housing Cymru (CHC), the umbrella body for Housing Associations in Wales, is backing Welsh Government’s Support Your High Street campaign (September 20-27).

During the week, Welsh Housing Associations are joining others, such as local authorities and retailers, to show their support for the campaign.
The Housing Sector has long supported Welsh high streets, with many, more recently, accessing funding via the Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places fund, which aims to bring about regeneration in Wales’ town centres, coastal and Communities First areas.

Sioned Hughes Interim Chief Executive of CHC said: “Welsh housing associations are community regeneration agents, working within their communities to support local supply chains and local businesses, helping to keep the Welsh pound local. Supporting and investing in local high streets is key to improving employment and prosperity in an area, which also sits alongside empowering local people to help with regenerating their local communities.”

The Urban Village is the Coastal Housing Group’s flagship scheme for the regeneration of Swansea’s High Street. The first phase was completed in spring 2012 and comprises 76 flats for social rent and five floors of office and retail space.

The Urban Village is acting as a catalyst for the regeneration of the High Street, attracting new businesses and increasing footfall into an area of the city which has been neglected for too long. The long term aim is to make High Street a destination in its own right again and a grander entrance to the city centre for visitors coming in to Swansea from the train station. It is the flagship scheme for the redevelopment of the area providing high-quality, low-cost business and retail premises.

By attracting more small independent traders it aims to make High Street a vibrant place once more for people to visit, live and work. The building is home to 200 people. The Urban Village development has attracted a diverse group of businesses. Most of the available commercial space has already been occupied by new business tenants and it is hoped the increase in footfall this has created attracts more businesses into the area. Coastal have focussed on new, local retailers and entrepreneurial and creative businesspeople in order to support new economic activity on the High Street and the wider area.
It is home to among others the city’s local newspaper, the South Wales Evening Post, and a number of independent businesses as well 100 of Coastal Housing’s Swansea based staff. The building also houses IndyCube which offers office space on very flexible terms to entrepreneurs and business start-ups to help incubate new enterprise in Swansea by providing it with a high-quality and affordable base. The remaining retail units which haven’t been filled are used in a number of innovative ways including hosting various pop-up shops, exhibitions and even a theatre.

In addition to the commercial premises there are 76 residential flats to the rear, which are home to around 150 people. This takes the total number of people who didn’t previously live or work on High Street to about 300 and has helped to inject cash into the area, as well as people onto the street which generates a ‘buzz’ about the new development. The increased customer base for shops and restaurants in the city centre is directly helping to keep the local pound in the local economy. Future plans are in the pipeline for further development of Swansea.

For latest updates visit the Support Your High Street Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SupportYourHighStreetWales or follow the conversation on Twitter using the #supporthighstreets