Page last updated at 09:25 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 10:25 UK

Views sought on town development

Cwmbran Shopping Centre
Cwmbran's shopping centre employs 3,500 people

People in Cwmbran are being asked for their views on options for future investment in their town centre.

The shopping centre in Torfaen describes itself as the largest in Wales.

Owner Prudential Assurance plans to invest in "consolidating and renewing" the centre, which it claims is bucking the economic downturn.

Director Simon Phipps said: "Cwmbran town centre is ready to move on to the next stage of its development."

The consultation exercise is being launched to councillors by PruPIM (Prudential Property Investment Managers Limited).

The launch will be followed by a week-long exhibition at which the public can see the options for development and make their views known.

Cwmbran punches well above its weight in terms of shoppers, quality and retail range
Simon Phipps, PruPIM

PruPIM said it plans to reinforce pedestrian and cycling routes and strengthen the eastern town centre.

It also wants to enhance the area's communal spaces and continue to provide adequate, good quality parking.

Simon Phipps, the firm's director of retail asset management, said that despite the recession's effect on town centre retailing, studies continued to show that Cwmbran's town centre was performing strongly.

The company said visitor numbers in Easter week 2009 were up almost 10% on the same period in 2008, against UK growth of less than 1%.

"Cwmbran punches well above its weight in terms of shoppers, quality and retail range," said Mr Phipps.

"Our challenge therefore is to maintain the centre's strength so that it can act as a driving force for the recovery and beyond.

"Before that process begins, its owners want to understand the aspirations of the community, so that these can be incorporated into our thinking."

Gerry Hutchings, town centre manager, said: "The development work will provide much-needed jobs and regeneration benefits for local people."

Prudential Assurance has invested more than £35m in Cwmbran since it bought the centre in 1994.

The centre attracts 15m visitors a year according to statistics provided by retail information organisation Experian Footfall.

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