EVENTS and a proposed new playground have been cited as key to helping revive the fortunes of a town centre. 

Traders have expressed concern at the number of empty shops in Chepstow and that the town is falling behind others in Monmouthshire as a retail destination. 

But events such as the Castell Roc concerts held at the town’s castle every August and a new play park proposed near to the historic 11th century site are among a range of initiatives highlighted by the councillor responsible for town centres in Monmouthshire. 

Cllr Paul Griffiths is responsible for economic development in his role as deputy leader of Monmouthshire County Council while his own local Chepstow Castle and Larkfield ward includes the town centre which he also represents on the volunteer town council. 

The Labour councillor said it is the responsibility of the local authorities to support businesses and community groups who are trying to improve the town.

He said the park proposed near the castle is such an example.

“A remarkable group in Chepstow are those women called ‘Friends of the Dell’ who have been designing and working for many years to create a destination children’s playground in the Dell by the castle,” he said. 

“The town council has allocated £100,000 to the project. County officials are now working though all the bureaucratic hurdles with the group. We intend to have the park in 2024. Families will flock to Chepstow and they will use the shops and cafes.” 

He said other support includes the town council employing a new arts centre manager to work with volunteers at the Drill Hall, and the town and county council working with the 1,000-year-old Priory Church to try and find funding for new facilities, including toilets, as it develops an arts and music programme.

South Wales Argus: Chepstow Drill Hall is used as an arts centre. Picture: LDRS

Chepstow Drill Hall

The councillor said support for venues will help attract more visitors, and increase footfall, while he said the town’s location as “the source” of Wye Valley, Offa’s Dyke, Wales Coastal long distance walking routes and groups such as cycling clubs, walking groups and Park Run all draw in visitors.

He said: “The town’s future is being fashioned by hundreds of people all busy creating the social and shared spaces that we call town centres. When they succeed, business will succeed. The role of our councils is to support and empower all those who are contributing. 

“Our towns will succeed because we all know they must and we are all working together to make this happen.” 

The councillor also described the Welsh Government’s decision to provide a 75 per cent discount on rates to town centre businesses as an opportunity to “put our businesses on the best footing possible”.