The government has announced the first 14 areas that'll get funding to regenerate their high streets and town centres.
In total 101 places will benefit from the Future High Streets Fund, designed to help businesses across the UK get a “vital edge” with expert training and support.
The Future High Streets Fund is a government initiative that aims to rejuvenate the UK’s high streets. It’s a £1 billion pot that the government will hand out to towns and cities across the country to help with training and face-to-face support.
Part of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund, it's earmarked to “help high streets adapt and evolve” while remaining “vibrant places for their community”.
101 places are due to benefit from the support. But the government will enter a pilot phase first, testing the scheme with an initial 20 towns and cities.
The first 14 pilot areas will each get up to £25 million, making the initial pot worth £350 million. These areas will also be supported by the ‘High Streets Task Force’, which the Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, said “will provide the tools they need to get the best advice possible and a dashboard of key local data.”
|Salford||Swinton Town Centre|
|Rushmoor||Aldershot Town Centre|
|Hyndburn||Accrington Town Centre|
|Coventry||Coventry City Centre|
|Hartlepool||Hartlepool Town Centre|
|Cheshire West and Chester||Ellesmere Port Town Centre|
|Sandwell||West Bromwich Town Centre|
|Knowsley||Huyton Town Centre|
|Manchester||Withington District Centre|
The areas chosen for the pilot scheme are notable as they reflect the government’s new focus on former Labour territory.
Nine out of the fourteen areas are in the North, while three are in the Midlands. Only one is in London.
The Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, Jake Berry, said the government “is backing people across the Northern Powerhouse and every part of the UK to succeed no matter where they live.”
While these 14 towns and cities wait for more information on how to access the funding, the government’s scheme has been criticised by Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Labour’s Lisa Nandy said: “A decade of Tory cuts has blighted our high streets with empty shops and payday lenders.”
And Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats’ acting leader, questioned why the government hasn’t acted before now: "Where have the Conservatives been as High Streets across our country have been in rapid decline for several years now?”
The government has also proposed creating a register of empty commercial properties, which they say could help identify the landlords of vacant commercial properties.
The idea is to help businesses and community groups find space and support investment in local areas – bringing empty properties back into use.
If you’d like to give your thoughts on whether the government should create a register of empty commercial properties, you can take part in their survey.
What do you think of the government’s plans to support the UK’s high streets? Let us know in the comments below.
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