Car park charges cut and clean up planned to boost Walsall town centre
The first phase of an ambitious half a billion pound masterplan to revitalise Walsall’s struggling town centre is set to start in the coming weeks.
Walsall Council’s cabinet approved the adoption of the first six-month phase of the project at a meeting last night..
A budget of more than £600,000 will be set aside for this phase which will see a six month reduced car parking charge trial and enable work such as cleaning up the town centre, putting on live shows and events and installing seven electric car charging points.
Last year, the authority announced the development of the masterplan, which will see investment of around £500 million pumped into the centre over the next 20 years.
A report to cabinet says: “Walsall town centre is facing some well-publicised common challenges as a result of unprecedented changes in the retail industry as well as changing consumer behaviours and expectations.
“In response to the decline over recent years, a decision was made to take a proactive role to address the challenges.
“In September 2018, work commenced to prepare a comprehensive masterplan for Walsall town centre.”
The 25 per cent cut in council car park charges will run for six months until February next year, when it will be reviewed.
Among the reductions for shoppers include two hour charges being reduced by 40p from the current £1.50, four-hour charges reduced by 70p from £2.90 and all day parking cut by 60p from the existing £3.10.
A number of cuts will also be implemented at the authority-owned Saddlers Centre car park. Earlier this year, the council also announced a six-month free Sunday parking trial, the success of which will also be reviewed.
In a report before full council, leader Mike Bird said: “The retail sector in particular is undergoing a turbulent time as spending patterns shift and ‘online’ retailing presents a challenge to the traditional shopping experience, with the closure of a number of retail outlets in the town centre.
“We can be proud of the many great developments we have seen over the past few years – for example, the regeneration of the Waterfront.
"However there is work still to do, and we need to consider how the town centre might develop further in light of ever changing market conditions.”
Financial support for the masterplan is likely to come from a range of sources including Walsall Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority, as well as the Future High Streets Fund. Private sector investment will also be crucial.