§ 12. Dr. Howells
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assistance his Department is giving to regenerate town centres in Wales.
§ Mr. Gwilym Jones
A range of Welsh Office responsibilities in conjunction with local authorities, development agencies and other public bodies are being used to promote the successful regeneration of Welsh town centres.
§ Dr. Howells
Is the Minister aware that many towns in Wales are suffering very badly as a result of out-of-town shopping developments? Welcome though the employment is in many of those developments, they are having a very serious effect on town centres and the commercial hearts of towns. In Bridgend, 37 shops have closed, in my constituency of Pontypridd 12 have closed, and 27 have closed in Tonypandy. That experience can be replicated all over Wales. What does the Minister intend to do to provide a strategic lead to ensure that local authorities have some sense and to make it clear that the Welsh Office wishes them to look after the commercial hearts of our towns and to stop that rundown going any further?
§ Mr. Jones
I must direct the hon. Gentleman to planning policy guidance note No. 6, which relates to the provision of town centres. I can also point to an announcement that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made on 21 November when he repeated the advice in planning policy guidance and expressed the desire that there should be restraint in granting planning permissions for out-of-town food supermarkets. If the hon. Gentleman considers our strategic development scheme, he will find that £10 million—17 per cent. of the total—has been allocated to assist with the regeneration of town centres, and similar schemes will continue to receive a significantly high priority in next year's round.