The Government has just announced the Future High Street fund. With a budget of £675M this is available to towns that wish to invest in the infrastructure needed to re-invigorate our town center.
If you run a business in Dartmouth, and want to participate in forming a team to apply for this funding for Dartmouth, then take the poll below:
If you answered YES then read on and email me your name and contact details or write your contact details in the comments at the bottom of this page:
Here is an extract from the Government website:
High streets lie at the heart of our communities and local economies, creating jobs, nurturing small businesses and injecting billions of pounds into our economy. But the way we shop and the way that communities use their high streets is changing: we’re shopping more online, making fewer big shopping trips and shopping ‘little and more often’. This changes the nature of what makes a high street successful.
The government is committed to helping local high streets evolve and adapt to these changes. We want to encourage vibrant town centres where people live, shop, use services, and spend their leisure time. The Future High Streets Fund will support and fund local areas’ plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future.
The Future High Streets Fund
In July this year, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government asked Sir John Timpson to consider these issues and make recommendations how to support local areas to respond to these changes. In the run-up to the Budget, he made two main recommendations to the Chancellor and the Secretary of State: to set up a High Streets Taskforce to support local leadership and to establish a new fund to support the renewal and reshaping of high streets and town centres.
The Chancellor and the Secretary of State agree with Sir John’s diagnosis and recommendations. Therefore, to respond, a new £675 million Future High Streets Fund will be set up to help local areas to respond to and adapt to these changes. It will serve two purposes: it will support local areas to prepare long-term strategies for their high streets and town centres, including funding a new High Streets Taskforce to provide expertise and hands-on support to local areas. It will also then co-fund with local areas projects including:
- investment in physical infrastructure, including improving public and other transport access, improving flow and circulation within a town / city centre, congestion-relieving infrastructure, other investment in physical infrastructure needed to support new housing and workspace development and existing local communities, and the regeneration of heritage high streets; and
- investment in land assembly, including to support the densification of residential and workspace around high streets in place of under-used retail units.
We expect to ask local areas to provide proposals setting out the overall vision that they wish to achieve for their high street and town or city centre and specific improvements that would contribute to that overall vision. There will be a competition for funding. We expect that places will partner with the private sector in developing their proposals.
How the Fund will work
We expect proposals to be assessed according to value for money and other elements of their business case (e.g. deliverability, strategic fit to the objectives of the fund and ability to co-fund bids where appropriate). We therefore expect local areas to set out how their plans will enable their local high street to adapt to changes in consumer demands and then give details of individual projects with a clear economic benefit. We would not expect local areas to bid for funding to expand traditional retail on their high street as such proposals should be funded commercially, or for short term enhancements or promotions. We indicatively expect the fund to contribute up to £25 million to projects per local area.
Your editor went to the last Full Town Council meeting on the 7th January and asked the Town Mayor if the Council intends to apply for some of this funding to support an investment in Dartmouth’s town center. The Mayor chose to refer the question to the next General Purposes committee meeting which takes place on the 19th February. However the deadline for applications is the 22nd of March 2019, so this will not be soon enough to get a comprehensive application prepared.
In the absence of a Chamber of Trade I am therefore interested to find out if any local business people would be interested in seizing the initiative by joining a team with the objective of preparing an application, in conjunction with the local authority, for submission by the end of March.
I understand Paignton is already working on an application so we must act now.
Some of the areas of investment could be :
- Install a glass roof over the Market Square to make it an all weather community meeting place
- Pedestrianise the town center
- Second story on the Mayors Avenue car park
- Gate the Boat Float to keep water in at low tide
- Any other ideas that you may have!
Not all of these ideas are practical or will be supported but surely this town has the will and ability to come up with proposals that the community will support.
If you can think of ideas where this investment could make a real difference to Dartmouth then please take the poll above and let me know if you can help. If you have any ideas please comment below on this page.
I believe it would be a tragedy if Dartmouth missed this opportunity to access significant funding towards rejuvenating its center.
If you want to know more, click below to read the Government website: