- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
The Government has revealed that more than 50 areas across the country from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Penzance in Cornwall, have been shortlisted for the second phase of the multi-million Future High Streets Fund.
The 675 million pound Future High Streets Fund, launched in December 2018, is aimed at helping town centres to transform their high streets and make them “fit for the future” and can be used on everything from improving transport and access into town centres to converting retail units into new homes.
Those shortlisted areas will receive up to 150,000 pounds of new funding to work up detailed project proposals, based on their initial plans, working closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
High Streets Minister Jake Berry said in a statement: “High Streets are a crucial part of our local economies and people care about them because they are also the centres of their community. But we recognise that changing consumer behaviour and the rise of online shopping presents a significant challenge and that’s why we are taking action to help them evolve.
“Many of our high streets are successfully re-inventing themselves and with these new plans now in development, local leaders, who know their areas best, will be driving forward the transformation of their town centres into further great success stories.”
The shortlisted town centres include seaside towns Morecambe, Great Yarmouth, Penzance and Taunton, as well as Northern high streets in Sheffield, Hull, Wigan, South Shields, and Derby.
Prime Minister Theresa May added: “Our high streets lie at the heart of local communities – creating jobs, boosting the economy and helping small businesses thrive. But new technology and changes in the way we shop means they also face growing challenges, so I’m delighted over 50 towns will initially benefit from this scheme.
“The funding will breathe new life into town centres and – together with measures such as small business rate cuts and opening up empty shops – will transform our high streets for the future.”
Government shortlists more than 50 towns and cities for 675 million pound Future High Streets Fund
One of the areas that was successful with its application was Sheffield City Council, with support from the University of Sheffield, to improve its high street, and Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment at Sheffield City Council, said in a statement: “It’s excellent news to make the second stage of this process. Our city is transforming into a world-leading mix of retail, residential and leisure as evidenced by our Heart of the City II scheme and the improvements on the Moor. But we don’t want change to happen in silos, or the Heart of the City’s obvious benefits to detract from other proud and historic parts of our city.
“That’s why it is important that we now work with government to develop a compelling business case that shows how much pride we have in these streets and our future plans for them. Although there are no guarantees, we are confident that the huge progress we have already made to develop new vibrancy in this part of the city centre will stand us in good stead and, if successful, the Future High Streets fund will help us to do much more.”
The full shortlist comprises of: Heaner, Erdington, Farnworth, Halifax, Crewe, Winsford, Chorley, Whitehaven, Penzance, Darlington, Dartford, Derby City Centre, St Peter’s Cross, Bishop’s Auckland, March High Street, Great Yarmouth, Tottenham High Road, Buxton, King’s Lynn, Hull City Centre, Huddersfield, Morecambe, New Haven, Mansfield, Chatham, Coalville, Northampton, Nottingham City Centre, West End Point, Oldham, Nelson, Poole, Rotherham, Sheffield High Street, Yeovil, South Shields, Old Kent Road, Stafford, Stockport, Stockton, Sunderland City Centre, Sutton, Swindon, Taunton, Stretford, Wakefield City Centre, Walsall, Wigan, Birkenhead - New Ferry, Wolverhampton City Centre (West), Fleetwood, and Kidderminster.
This news follows last months announcement that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was teaming up with the Architectural Heritage Fund and National Lottery Heritage Fund to launch a 62 million pound funding package to "breathe new life into historic high streets” across the country, to restore historic buildings, create newworkspacess and cultural venues. As part of the overall funding, 55 million pounds was allocated from the Future High Streets Fund.