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26.10.18

WMCA and local councils to transform the region’s town centres

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has today revealed plans to revitalise town centres across the region.

The collaborative project between the WMCA and local councils will target the Bilston, the St Thomas Quarter in Dudley, Bordesley Green in Birmingham, St Matthews Quarter in Walsall, and West Bromwich town centres.

High streets across the country have suffered in recent years as consumers move to online shopping, however this new project will “unlock new funding, expertise and support from the WMCA and other partners and be delivered by councils.”

Mayor Andy West, former managing director of John Lewis, pledged he will use his plethora of retail experience to assist in reviving the region’s town centres.

The WMCA has identified areas of opportunity to target and drawn up specific plans for each of the town centres, and more town centres will be eligible for the programme next year.

Additionally, a ‘regional task force’ featuring experts in retail, finance, housing, universities and government will be set up to share their knowhow and support.

The mayor said: “The future of the high street will not only be about shops, it will be about public services, homes, small businesses and community activities.

“There are many opportunities for our high streets. We must find a positive future for them which embraces technological change. The future of our communities depends upon it.”

West added that he is aiming for the region to lead the way in “reimagining” the role of town centres in the digital age, and that “as the UK home of 5G, we are well placed to do so.”

Cllr Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio lead for housing and land, said: “Many of our town centres need to re-invent themselves to meet the challenge of the 21st century and meet the needs of our residents.

“The WMCA will help councils accelerate their plans to transform these centres and ensure they remain viable.”

Image credit - kodachrome25

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