Which councils will bid for fund to give high streets a boost?

Applicants are encouraged to diversify their high streets to include uses other than retail
Applicants are encouraged to diversify their high streets to include uses other than retail
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Preston City Council has confirmed that it will be bidding for a share of a new government fund to redesign its high street.

Preston City Council has confirmed that it will be bidding for a share of a new government fund to redesign its high street.

The Future High Streets initiative aims to encourage local authorities to rethink what their traditional shopping areas have to offer - and guard them against changing consumer habits.

The government is inviting applications from councils which can demonstrate “significant challenges” facing high streets in their area and where investment is needed in physical infrastructure.

Projects which could benefit from the fund include those which reduce reliance on retail and create mixed developments of residential and office space - alongside shops. Research from Public Health Health England suggests that the introduction of new uses for the high street can help make it more resilient to change.

A spokesperson for Preston City Council said: “This is a welcome opportunity for further investment in our high streets and we expect the demand for funding to be extremely high.

“We are considering the detail of the prospectus but do expect to submit an expression of interest by the March deadline.”

Meanwhile, Chorley Council confirmed that it was considering its options and the scheme could form part of the wider improvements already underway to improve the town centre.

South Ribble and Ribble Valley councils were both unable to confirm their intentions at this stage.

The Federation of Small Business in Lancashire is encouraging local authorities to submit strong bids for the fund. Area Leader for Lancashire, Rachel Kay, said:

“We would like to see all our local authorities try to secure additional funds to support our town centres and high streets.

The growth of online shopping and out of town shopping centres continue to be a real challenge to businesses on high streets throughout the county.

“Small businesses, in particular, have found the last few months challenging and deserve some support to make sure they can keep serving the communities in which they operate.”

SHOPPING STATS

1 percent - total retail sales online (October 2000)

20 percent - total retail sales online (October 2018)

4,412 - reduction in retail units across UK (Jan-Jun 2018)

Sources: Office for National Statistics/Local Data Company