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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 December, 2003, 12:50 GMT
Design hothouse plan for Brecon
Design students
The centre aims to attract design graduates to return to mid Wales
Up-and-coming fashion and jewellery designers could soon be exhibiting their work in mid Wales if plans for a new centre are backed.

The Brecon Design Centre would be the only one of its kind in Wales and provide a stage for Welsh designers in all fields to show off their work.

It would also provide a new focus for the market town which is still recovering the economic catastrophe of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001.

A hot house for fledgling businesses, the centre would also offer the opportunity for the public to buy revitalising a town where a number of shops have closed.

The move to develop the Design Centre was backed by Powys Council's board on Tuesday.

Community regeneration group Brecon Action Ltd took its inspiration from the Kilkenny Design Centre in Ireland, set up in the 1960s as an outlet for design in the face of a declining local economy.
There is a need to develop a new image and attract newer, younger and wealthier visitors as well as traditional shoppers
Jeremy Wright, Powys Council

"A range of well appointed outlets offering a high quality product rich in choice are badly needed," said Ali Thomas of Brecon Action.

"Public consultation of concerned townsfolk identified how a single shop could make a difference, especially if that shop provided a unique experience which could be associated with Brecon alone," she added.

Brecon needs to maximise its already prominent position in the performing arts, she said.

Tens of thousands of visitors visit Brecon each August for the internationally-known jazz festival there.

Jeremy Wright, Powys Council's head of economic development, said design centre idea was 'positive, thoughtful and certainly innovative for Wales'.

"Foot-and-mouth was a genuine threat to the survival of many retailers in Brecon and since then the town has seen a number of outlets disappear with the emergence of six charity shops.

"There is a need to develop a new image and create a niche in the market to attract newer, younger and wealthier visitors as well as traditional shoppers.

'Bright, young people'

The idea is being welcomed by the Brecon Chamber of Trade president Chris Shearman who said it would make a huge difference.

"One of its aims is to provide employment prospects for bright, young people from Powys so they can come back to this area once they graduate," he said.

If it gets the go-ahead, the centre will also make use of online sales and provide six workshops for young entrepreneurs to develop their products.

Promotion and customer sales could be made from glass-fronted units inside the centre.

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