Two borough towns set to feature in first round of bids for Government High Streets Fund
Wellington and Oakengates are set to become the focus for Telford & Wrekin’s bid for a slice of the Government’s national £675 million scheme to help boost town high streets.
Under the Future High Street Fund’s criteria, the borough based on its population, can submit only two expression of interest bids for specific High Streets in the first round. This must be done by 22 March.
The Council says that when a second bidding round opens, expected in 2020, that it will then look to submit bids for Madeley and Dawley. The Government is also due to launch a £55 million fund to support regeneration of Heritage High Streets and, subject to details of the Fund, the Council is proposing to put forward Ironbridge and Newport.
The Council’s cabinet will be asked to back submitting expressions of interest bids for Wellington and Oakengates when it meets next week.
Among a range of criteria, bidding high streets must face significant challenges and any successful scheme must make a “transformational change” to the area and support extensive economic and social activity. Bids cannot focus on just improving an area’s appearance.
Cllr Lee Carter, cabinet lead for regeneration, said: “This fund has very strict criteria which we must meet to have any chance of success and we expect bidding to be fiercely competitive.
“We feel that Wellington and Oakengates are the high streets that best meet those criteria. Both face some very real challenges and also have many of the other key requirements such as strong rail and public transport links.
“Wellington has a broad range of businesses and social events. There’s a growing cultural offer and new initiatives such the Orbit Arts and Community Centre, supported by the Telford 50 Legacy Fund and due to open this spring, will really add to this. There’s strong partnership working and a focus on engaging young people in the High Street which has been recognised nationally.
“Oakengates has the opportunity to build on its strong rail links, its theatre, create a stronger centre with a mix of retail and residential and to develop a broader leisure offer through regeneration that could attract many more people. Again our Telford 50 Legacy Fund is already helping to develop a different offer through its work with The Wakes, while our Pride in Your High Streets fund has supported new retailers including Café Aroma and Gems.
“Any second bidding phase would focus on Dawley and Madeley, while Ironbridge and Newport would be best placed as part of bids to a separate Heritage High Streets fund.”
Since 2015, the Council has invested £2.5 million in its Pride in Our High Streets scheme targeting key high streets across the borough.