Fylde Council applied in 2019 for a share of the government’s Future High Streets Fund in order to fulfil a four-year vision to transform the main shopping area.
Dubbed “Kirkham Futures” - and thought to be the biggest such programme in the town’s history - the aim of the project is to refurbish the public realm, including via a revamp of Kirkham's shopfronts. There will also be a focus on bringing empty high street properties back into use and widening the scope of what is on offer in the town.
Support will be offered for community initiatives and health and wellbeing programmes, as well as arts and cultural activities.
The town learned in May last year that it had been awarded £6.2m from the Future High Streets pot - more than £3m short of the £9.5m it had requested, due to the popularity of the fund and how many applications were received.
Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has now agreed to provide a grant to bridge the gap and allow the full programme to be brought to fruition.
Members approved the allocation of the cash on the basis that it will be subject to a business case, a funding agreement with Fylde Borough Council and “extensive due diligence” by County Hall officers.
Conservative cabinet member for economic development and growth Aidy Riggott said that the scheme would bring many benefits to Kirkham. The authority expects to see the projects that it will fund get off the ground this year and be completed in 2023 in order that those benefits are realised "in the short to medium term".
However, deputy leader of the Labour opposition group Lorraine Beavers suggested that the 'Levelling Up' agenda was “not working” for towns such as Fleetwood, which she represents, and which missed out on getting any Future High Streets funding. She claimed that, in Lancashire, “the most deprived communities are being disregarded in favour of the most affluent communities”.
However, County Cllr Riggott rejected the suggestion, citing recent government support for projects in areas like Burnley and Colne.
He also said that current efforts to secure a devolution deal from Whitehall - with all 15 councils “uniting” in that aim - would enable Lancashire to be more successful in attracting inward investment and promoting economic development.
KIRKHAM’S FUTURE VISION
***Public realm works to revive and re-energise the town centre streets and open spaces.
***Flood alleviation and drainage works.
***Shop front improvements scheme to transform properties.
***Heritage and Eco Skills Centre to create a regional centre of excellence for heritage and eco skills within a restored Grade II listed building.
***Regeneration of prime town centre properties for leisure, retail, and housing.
***Additional arts, heritage and community facilities, including a community cinema.
***A community-led cultural programme of activities.
***Engagement with the Kirkham community to improve their health and wellbeing.
Source: Lancashire County Council
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