North East Wales

Plans to revamp Wrexham town centre to boost trade

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Media captionA report says that while the town has fewer empty stores than the national average, many shoppers wrongly feel the town centre is in decline

An action plan will be set up to boost the image and trade of north Wales' biggest town.

Wrexham councillors have met to consider how to improve the "negative perception" of the town centre.

In recent years, big name stores like Marks and Spencer have moved to nearby Eagles Meadow shopping centre which had a record 3m visitors last year.

But the council says despite a "difficult" couple of years, sales and traders' confidence have picked up.

Wrexham's town centre manager Isobel Watson said it was about identifying positive aspects of the town and building on them.

"The town has changed quite dramatically over the last two years," she said.

"It's now a university town and has a new key audience."

The plan is to devise a promotional campaign and target businesses in the town, the media and shoppers.

The council said it wants to promote Wrexham's character, friendliness and relaxed nature.

The report to the council's Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee wants to "develop a coherent and cohesive approach to changing the negative perception of the town centre".

It comes as figures released by bosses at Eagles Meadow show it had the biggest number of visitors last year since opened in 2008.

They claim the busiest single week was December 17 -23 with 89,076 people.

The council report says a website will be launched to highlight the town centre's attractions and events.

Some traders have said previously that hosting more events is key to bringing people into the centre with last month's Victorian market hailed a success.

Attractive facades will also be put up in empty shop units.

"The percentage of vacant units in town centres is often quoted in headlines as a measure of their vitality," the council said.

"In October 2012, the average vacancy rate nationally was 11.3%."

However, the number of empty units in Wrexham falls below the national average and stands at 10%.

A survey in the town in October 2011 found every business had seen a decrease in turnover but when the survey was repeated a year later more than 65% said turnover had increased or stayed the same.

"Confidence has grown in the last two years," Ms Watson said.

"But we must not be complacent."

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