A multi-million pound fund is being made available to over 50 areas across the UK to help transform their high streets. High streets minister Jake Berry MP confirmed that the 50 chosen areas had moved to the second phase of the multi-million fund which will help with improving transport and converting empty retail units into new homes.
The Ministry of Housing, local communities, and local government will work closely with the chosen 50 to help reinvent their town centres and breathe some life back into them. From Whitehaven in Cumbria to Penzance in Cornwall, the fund will be spread far and wide around the UK.
The prime minister said:
“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.”
Funding and Grants for High Street Shops
With the rise of internet shopping and consumer habits changing, the hight street really has taken a big hit. Add in rising business rates and you’ve created the perfect environment for a ghost town. Despite this, the high street still has a lot of potential to thrive but we need to tackle it with a mixed-use approach. The government is keen for the fund to be used to convert empty retail units to much-needed housing whilst still leaving room for commercial, leisure and community spaces.
High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP had his say on the prospect of funding:
“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”.
Funding support for the UK High Street
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport joined forces with the Architectural Heritage Fund and National Lottery Heritage Fund to contribute £62 million to support high streets up and down the country and make that much-needed money available to them. This will allow them to restore historical buildings and create cultural and workspace venues.
For high streets to work again, it seems like we need to focus on the word ‘re-purpose’. We aren’t reinventing the wheel, just reinventing the high street. Local communities will need to focus on re-purposing old spaces to allow new life to thrive. With new money comes new enthusiasm, and local authorities are raring to go.
Win £15,000 through the Great British High street Awards
An incentive for towns to improve their high streets is the hotly contested Great British High Street Awards with shortlisted high streets being eligible to win up to £15,000 for their local community, meaning more money in the pot.
With high streets up and down the country closely resembling deserted ghost towns, it’s great to see the government stepping up to not only secure funding but secure the future of our towns. To create places where people want to live and spend their money and ultimately work with, instead of against changing consumer behaviour.