FLINTSHIRE'S towns have experienced a spontaneous boost during the pandemic thanks to a surge in entrepreneurial spirit and people valuing local independent shops.

In recent months, dozens of small businesses have set up in vacant high street units.

This has been attributed to a change in people's perspectives during lockdown.

That was the view of councillors as they discussed the future of town centre regeneration in the county during Tuesday's Environment & Economy Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

Councillor Sean Bibby said that vacant units in Shotton's Chester Road were going "like hot cakes".


Shotton High Street.

Shotton High Street.


He said: "I think what has to be noted, and it surprised me, was how resilient are town centres have been during the pandemic.

"I think when the pandemic started to take its course it was of great to concern to many of us what the impact would be on our high street businesses, and whether they would be able to survive. But I have been pleasantly surprised.

"I visited a local letting agent recently who told me that vacant units in Shotton were flying out like hot cakes. They can barely keep up with demand."

Chief planning officer Andrew Farrow agreed.

He said: "There does seem to be some evidence of vacancy rates falling in our town centres."

He believed it was down to two factors.

Mr Farrow added: "People have recognised the importance of local shopping as they have come to value their local shops.

"There also seems to have been a culture of entrepreneurial spirit. People have been taking stock of their lives and perhaps taking the opportunity to set up a business or a retail unit. There has been an element of that.

Cllr Derek Butler said there has been a sea change in the fortunes of Flintshire's town centres and he hoped it would continue.

He said people realising that many of the small vacant units were not subject to high business rates was a factor.

He said: "It happened organically. I think during lockdown people finally twigged this and have taken the opportunity to take advantage of these properties that don't pay business rates to start a small business. There has been a change, its a good change, and it's is to be welcomed."

The discussion was sparked by the agenda item asking the committee to consider the key recommendations of the Audit Wales review of Town Centre Regeneration and Flintshire Council’s


Mold is one of the town's to thrive during the last two months, with more than 30 new businesses opening their doors in the historic market town during the pandemic.

New businesses to open range from a waffle house to a gym.

Previously, mayor Sarah Taylor, said: “Mold is on the up, and that is down to our fabulous traders and businesses and the loyal local population supporting our town centre.

"During the pandemic, our traders overnight had to become incredibly creative and inventive in the manner in which they delivered their offers, many had to create websites, embark upon home deliveries and learn how to use social media, more or less overnight."