As reported by The Morning Advertiser, the Future High Streets Fund – launched in December 2018 – initially offered 50 shortlisted towns the chance to bid for a share of a £675m pot to reinvent their high streets.
However, the shortlist has been expanded to include a further 50 locations following the announcement of a £3.6bn Towns Fund – which included an additional £325m for the Future High Streets Fund to grow the overall pot to £1bn.
Shortlisted authorities will progress to the second phase and receive up to £150,000 to support the development of detailed proposals to revamp their high streets. These can then be submitted for capital funding for projects such as the improvement of transport links to town centres, the conversion of disused retail units into new homes and workplaces, and investment in infrastructure.
Announcing the expansion of the Future High Streets Fund, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our high streets are right at the heart of our communities, and I will do everything I can to make sure they remain vibrant places where people want to go, meet and spend their money.
“But with our town centres facing challenges, we’re today expanding the High Streets Fund to support over 100 high streets to regenerate – backed by £1bn of vital investment.
“This scheme is going to re-energise and transform even more of our high streets – helping them to attract new businesses, boost local growth, and create new infrastructure and jobs.”
The announcement follows comments made by Manchester’s night czar Sacha Lord who told The Morning Advertiser that independent venues, including pubs, can play a key role in saving the high street.
Pubs ‘vital’ to high streets
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds and a judge of the Great British High Street Awards 2019 said: “It is very good news that the Government has announced an increase to £1bn for the Future High Streets Fund.
“This will allow an additional 50 high streets to qualify for funding of up to £25m, although most will be £5m to £10m. Most of this investment will go in infrastructure and work spaces to create community hubs. With pubs on every high street, this funding can only help increase footfall.
“As I begin judging this year’s High Streets’ competition, it is local leadership, investment, events and innovation that attract people to come to the high street, to shop, but also to spend leisure time, with pubs vital to that experience.
“Without doubt, pubs need more support and less tax, particularly on business rates and beer duty, but all funding is good news and so many of our pubs will rightly support local initiatives which will, in turn, attract this additional funding that can only help them and their local high streets to thrive.”
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “Pubs are integral parts of high streets in every region of the UK. Not only are they economically beneficial, they are valuable social assets as well.
“As high streets have declined, some pubs have also struggled. A healthy, thriving pub sector is good for the high street and local communities so we hope councils need to put them at the forefront of their plans.”