50 towns make Future High Streets Fund shortlist

The government has released its shortlist of towns which will progress to the next stage of bidding for its Future High Streets Fund (FHSF).

50 towns will now progress to the second round of the £675m FHSF, which aims to support local authorities’ plans to revitalise their town centres through initiatives from improving transport links to creating new homes from old retail units.

The 50 towns invited to the second phase will now receive up to £150m of funding to draw up detailed proposals for their projects based on their initial plans.

They will also receive guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and work with the government to implement their projects.

The Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘Our high streets lie at the heart of local communities – creating jobs, boosting the economy and helping small businesses thrive.

‘But new technology and changes in the way we shop means they also face growing challenges, so I’m delighted over 50 towns will initially benefit from this scheme.

‘The funding will breathe new life into town centres and – together with measures such as small business rate cuts and opening up empty shops – will transform our high streets for the future.’

The shortlist of 50 towns released by the MHCLG includes towns across the breadth of England, from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Penzance in Cornwall.

The towns selected will now have to submit their detailed business case for capital investment to the government over the next 6 to 9 months.

14 of the towns named on the shortlist are in the North West of England, with five of them located in Greater Manchester boroughs: Farnworth in Bolton, Stretford in Trafford, Oldham, Stockport, and Wigan.

Trafford Council said the initial funding would help them develop a full business case for their plans for Stretford, which involve improving public spaces, allowing better access to walking and cycling schemes, and delivering new homes in the town centre.

Cllr James Wright, Trafford Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said: ‘We are delighted that Stretford has been successful in reaching the next stage of the Future High Streets Fund. Stretford deserves a great centre that is fit for the future.

‘The Fund represents a fantastic opportunity to help the town centre reach its full potential and support delivery of our masterplan. Residents, communities and businesses are at the heart of all we do and I am looking forward to working with our partners in developing [our] business case.’

The Future High Streets Fund was first announced by the MHCLG last December as part of the government’s plan to revitalise Britain’s town centres.

Last month, £55m of the FHSF was allocated to the government’s package of support for ‘heritage’ high streets, which will be used to restore historic buildings and transform them into new cultural spaces, offices and housing.

Photo credit: Parrot of Doom 


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