High streets across England secure cash boost for regeneration

High streets across England secure cash boost for regeneration

More than 70 towns and cities across England are to share up to £830m to help boost high streets, the government has said.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the funding plan, initially revealed before the Covid pandemic, would help areas to “bounce back” through regeneration.

Sunderland and Swindon will each get £25m to fund railway station and town centre improvements.

Some 15 areas share £255m, with 57 others provisionally granted £576m.

The Future High Streets Fund was part of the 2018 Budget by former chancellor Philip Hammond.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the role of the High Street has “always evolved” and the government wanted to ensure they were the “beating heart of their local community”.

“The year ahead will be a big one for the High Street as it seeks to recover, adapt and evolve as a result of the pandemic,” he said.

“This investment will help us build back better and make town centres a more attractive place to live, work and visit.”

Projects include £24.6m to support a permanent new space for the historic market in Birkenhead and £17.9m to renovate the Scala Theatre and Corn Exchange in Worcester town centre.

The government said areas that will receive all the money they applied for were:

A further 57 town and cities will receive provisional funding totalling £576m ahead of final proposals, the government added, with £107m going to support the regeneration of heritage high streets.

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed welcomed the funding but called on the government to reform business rates.

“Their bungled response to Covid-19 has left high streets struggling with avoidably long lockdowns,” he added.

Kevin Bentley, from the Local Government Association, which represents councils in England, said: “Social distancing looks set to play some part in our everyday lives for some time to come and the scale of the challenge facing our local economies as a result of this pandemic cannot be under-estimated.

“This funding is good news and will boost councils’ ongoing work to repurpose their town centres and implement measures to help communities and high streets transition to our new way of life.”

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