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<< Back Posted on 30th April 2021

By Emily Cotterill


We’ve compared how the Plaid Cymru 2021 manifesto compares to the recommendations in our Recovery Manifesto for Cities and High Streets.

Our Recommendations

  • Conduct a large-scale review of business rates

Yes! Plaid commit to reforming and ultimately replacing business rates with what they all ‘a new and fairer land and property tax, levied as a flat rate on owners not occupants based on up-to date values’. We can’t speak to what this new system will be and how equitable its delivery will be but the fact that this commitment goes beyond tinkering at the edges and relying on limiting small business rates relief is a positive sign at least.

  • Allow city centre partnerships to participate more fully in the development of cities through increased powers coupled with stronger regulation

No. Plaid Cymru may have never said anything specific about BIDs beyond the local authority level and their lack of city focus was always going to put this specific demand low on their radar. Commitments elsewhere on community rights and town centre management do suggest a desire to foster the collaborative co-production of space though which is a positive step.

  • Maintain the benefits of good office environments whilst transitioning to a blended and accessible working dynamic

Sort of! Plaid don’t much love cities and they’re focussed more on the co-working hub model than the logic of ensuring businesses retain some office presence. Our suggestion of incentivising the inevitable office contraction into city (and even town) centres and away from business parks is perhaps covered in their reference to assisting businesses from ‘the periphery’ into town centres. The context suggests this commitment addresses consumer facing businesses but if it also applies to telecoms firms and marketing agencies then we will be happy.

  • Empower communities to take charge of neglected or mismanaged spaces and prevent the destruction of historic and socially relevant structures

Yes! There’s a proposed ‘Community Rights Act’ (although the name is all we seem to have so far) as well as the promise to explore a community wealth fund to empower communities to buy community assets, including land, and a new national service to support them in the process. This seems potentially similar to the Scottish model which we reference in our manifesto.

  • Supercharge the Town Centre First approach and bring public services into vacant central properties

No. Politics is politics and it was unlikely that Plaid would name check a policy of the current Labour led administration but it is a shame to see nothing on the proposed locations of the many new agencies and bodies that this manifesto proposes.

  • Position, protect, and strengthen cultural institutions in city centres

Yes! Plaid address community assets in a number of ways, a proposed Community Rights Act, the introduction of a third grade of listed properties for ‘[b]uildings of local importance’ which will limit powers to demolish, and legislation to protect cultural venues.

  • Defend free to access spaces and space for young people in particular

Not explicitly although this request makes plenty of sense for a cities and high streets focussed manifesto it would make for an odd claim in a general political manifesto. The broad themes of the Plaid manifesto suggest that they would act in favour of this claim.

  • Continue to invest in developing integrated high-quality public transport infrastructure

Yes! It would be an odd manifesto from Plaid that didn’t address this issue and there are mentions of what seems to be the South Wales Metro re-branded as something called the ‘Valleys Metro’ although the main focus of Plaid’s public transport agenda seems to be inter-regional rather than regional.

On the office front its interesting to see a commitment to ticket pricing not favouring (and therefore locking in) traditional working patterns.

Clocking in at 122 pages the Plaid Cymru manifesto is something of a political beast and, more so than the other two major parties, there are various other high streets elements covered. The most interesting of which is the fact that Plaid have committed to making town centre management a statutory responsibility in areas with 30 or more commercial units. It’s interesting, and heartening, to see place management acknowledged as a key element in the development of our urban areas and we would hope to see this commitment matched with an appropriate upskilling process to find high quality, strategically minded practitioners to do the best they can by these town centres. In particular we point to the work being done by the High Streets Taskforce (delivered by the Institute of Place Management) across the border in England.

Written by Emily Cotterill – Projects Manager