THE number of vacant premises in Pembrokeshire town centres is a cause for concern, but the figures must be put into a national context.
That was the message to come from Martin White, Pembrokeshire County Council’s head of regeneration during his address to the economy overview and scrutiny committee meeting on June 12.
The results of a survey carried out in 2013 were circulated to councillors after the figures were requested at the last meeting.
The data looked at A1, A2 and A3 ground floor vacancies in Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Tenby, Narberth, Newport, Saundersfoot, Solva and St Davids.
The A class premises includes shops, financial and professional services and food and drink outlets.
Out of the figures available, the town with the highest percentage of A class vacancies was Milford Haven with 14%, followed by Fishguard, Pembroke Dock and St Davids, all with 10%. Newport and Narberth had the lowest amount of vacancies at just 3% and 4% respectively.
Martin White said: “The top six towns have all set up town teams to address the problem.
“Some towns have a high rate and we’re working with them. But we need to put these figures into a Welsh context.”
In 2013 the UK vacancy rate was 13.9% and the Wales vacancy rate was 15.7%.
Jeremy Martineau has been involved with Fishguard and Goodwick Town Team. He said: “In principle the issue of empty premises has been discussed in the context of revising planning regulations to allow for a shrinkage of the retail area to allow for commercial to become residential more easily.
“I can only count four empty shops in Fishguard, but there are several in Main Street, Goodwick. If one looks historically the whole street was once a row of shops operating out of residential premises.”