Council Support for High Streets Grows
The Council's cabinet hears next week how the Pride in Our High Street Fund is helping high streets across the borough thrive with grants and schemes designed to support local businesses.
Since launching the Pride in Our High Street Fund in 2015, more than £1.5 million has been invested in two rounds of funding for projects and schemes that rejuvenate high streets.
Such is the success that the Council has just announced that it will invest a further £1m supporting six key town centres.
The first round in 2015 saw £800,000 invested in 30 schemes in nine local high streets, including renovating Madeley War Memorial, improving car parking and lighting in Newport, sprucing up Dawley High Street and creating a series of ‘false window’ murals in Wellington.
The second round released in 2017, has seen another £700,000 invested in six local high streets. This funding is focusing on bringing empty retail premises back into use, improving shop fronts and working with town and parish councils to better market their high streets.
A Young High Street Challenge competition also called for young people to come up with ideas to bring something new to the high streets.
This will see “Retro Shack” open shortly in Wellington operated by Wrekin College Students in association with an existing local business. Alongside this Wellington Market will soon get an improved entrance, fresh branding and a range of other ideas to help bring more people into the market supported by young people from Burton Borough School and Haberdasher Adams.
The success of the Council’s Fund can be seen in high streets across the borough. The Empty Unit Incentive Grant has received more than 80 enquiries and more than 60 businesses have applied for a grant to spruce up their shop fronts. Gems Fabric and Haberdashery in Oakengates (pictured), Cavern Sports Bar in Ironbridge and CoCo’s Dessert Factory in Wellington are among the businesses to have benefitted from funding so far.
Councillor Lee Carter, Telford & Wrekin Council cabinet member for finance, commercial services and economic development, said: “Studies have shown how addressing the issue of empty properties as well as ones in poor condition has the greatest impact on attracting visitors to high streets, which is why we have targeted our investment on these.
“Involving young people is also key to transforming the future of our high streets, which is why the Young High Street Challenge was so important. This initiative to engage young people was praised for its innovation by the team working on the Government’s Thriving Towns and High Streets scheme.
“We will use the additional £1 million to continue the work we are doing to fill empty units, improve shopfronts and bring more people into these high streets. We will also carry on the work we have started with young people. There are no easy answers to the challenges facing high streets in today’s world, but we are committed to doing all we can.”