Towns across the country have been urged to bid for a share of £675m to transform their local high streets into modern vibrant community hubs.
The Future High Streets fund which opened today will help local leaders implement bold new visions to transform their town centres and make them fit for the future with co-funding to consolidate properties on the high street, improve transport and access into town centres and converting retail units into new homes.
At October’s Budget, in response to interim recommendations from Sir John Timpson, Chair of the High Streets Expert Panel the Chancellor announced £675m Future High Street Fund as part of the government’s Plan for the High Street.
High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP said: “We all know high streets are changing, we can’t hide from this reality. But we’re determined to ensure they continue sit at the heart of our communities for generations to come.
“To do this we have to support investment in infrastructure, boosting local economies and ensuring people are able to get the most out of their local high streets. Empowering leaders on the ground is key too – they best understand the challenges facing their areas.
“Our Future High Streets Fund will drive forward this change, transforming our town centres into the thriving community hubs of the future.”
Chair of the Town Centres Expert Panel, Sir John Timpson said: “I have learnt, from my own business, that the best way to get things done is to give people on the front line the freedom to get on with the job in the way they know best.
“I am pleased that the government has acted on my panel’s recommendations to set up a Future High Streets Fund to help local leaders turn their plans into reality.
“By helping our towns create their own individual community hub, I believe we will have vibrant town centres to provide a much-needed place for face to face contact in the digital age.”
Places bidding for the Fund will be supported by the High Streets Task Force, which will be established in 2019 and will support local leadership.
Up to £55m of the Fund has also been allocated to support the regeneration of ‘heritage high streets’.
Bids will help to restore historic high street properties for new workspaces or cultural venues. More details of this will be announced in due course.