Councils have been given three months to bid for a slice of £675 million earmarked by the government to transform town centres
High streets minister Jake Berry opened the Future High Streets Fund on Boxing Day, setting a deadline of 22 March for expressions of interest.
The fund, first announced at last year’s autumn budget, is designed to help local authorities transform town centres into ‘community hubs’.
The cash is expected to be spent on projects such as improving transport links and converting shops into homes. Up to £55 million has been allocated for heritage schemes to restore historic properties and create new workspaces or cultural venues.
Berry said: ‘We all know high streets are changing; we can’t hide from this reality. But we’re determined to ensure they continue to sit at the heart of our communities for generations to come.
‘To do this we have to support investment in infrastructure, boosting local economies and ensuring people are able to get the most out of their local high streets. Empowering leaders on the ground is key too – they best understand the challenges facing their areas.
‘Our Future High Streets Fund will drive forward this change, transforming our town centres into the thriving community hubs of the future.’
Town Centres Expert Panel chair John Timpson said: ‘I am pleased that the government has acted on my panel’s recommendations to set up a Future High Streets Fund to help local leaders turn their plans into reality.
‘By helping our towns create their own individual community hub, I believe we will have vibrant town centres to provide a much-needed place for face-to-face contact in the digital age.’