[First published October 2017]
Another £700,000 is due to be set aside by Telford & Wrekin Council to invest in six local town centre high streets.
An initial Pride in Our High Streets funding round in 2015 invested £800,000 in projects and schemes to regenerate nine local high streets.
Nearly 30 projects benefited from grants, with successful bids 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.
Now the Council’s Cabinet is being asked to back the new funding round.
Following detailed surveys of high streets across the borough, this new funding will focus on empty retail premises and poor property condition in the six high streets of Wellington, Ironbridge, Newport, Oakengates, Dawley and Madeley.
Empty retail units and the condition of retail properties are important indicators of the health of a high street and are a problem nationally. Wellington, Oakengates and Dawley are areas where levels of empty retail properties are equal to or above the national level of 11%, and these high streets will benefit from a grant based support package available to new businesses to encourage the take-up of empty properties.
Funds would also be available to all six towns to improve shop frontages and develop a marketing strategy to promote their high streets. The funds will complement a Young High Street Challenge which will encourage young people to get involved in high street regeneration.
Council Leader Shaun Davies said: “High streets nationally are finding it tough. People are spending less on shopping, but more on recreation and culture, and this trend seems set to continue.
“High streets need to offer a collection of experiences – a place for people to meet, be entertained, shop, eat, drink and access things like education and healthcare.”
“The range of successful bids from the first round of funding shows just what a difference small things can make.”
The cabinet is being asked to back the new funding round when it meets next week and if approved grants of up to £10,000 would start to be available from December 2017.