Fifteen towns share £1.5m aid to revive High Streets

 
A run-down street with closed shops in Altrincham, northern England More than one in ten shops on UK High Streets are empty, figures show

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Fifteen areas in England are to share £1.5m in aid as part of a government scheme to regenerate the High Street.

The plan has been spearheaded by retail expert Mary Portas, who has described the traditional High Street as being at crisis point.

Twelve towns, dubbed as Portas' Pilots, were given cash to rejuvenate their shopping areas earlier this year.

High Streets in London, Liverpool, Hatfield, Brighton are among those to benefit from the new round of funding.

The 15 areas are: Ashford; Berwick; Braintree; London Road in Brighton; Hatfield; Royal Leamington Spa; Lodge Lane in Liverpool; the Cut in the Waterloo area of central London; Forest Hill in south London; Chrisp Street, Watney Market, Roman Road in Tower Hamlets, east London; Loughborough; Lowestoft; Morecambe; Rotherham, and Tiverton.

The funding for the three London areas is to be provided by the Greater London Authority, while the government will put up the remaining £1.2m.

The areas say they will use the funding in different ways. For example, Tiverton in Devon says it plans to improve parking facilities to encourage more visitors and tourists, while in Liverpool aspiring young entrepreneurs will be offered a mentoring service.

More than 400 towns made applications for funding and business support following a report by Ms Portas into the state of the High Street.

Emma King, town centre manager in Lowestoft, which is one of the successful bidders, said it should make a big difference to them.

Start Quote

This government's failed economic policy and double-dip recession made in Downing Street is clearly damaging High Streets ”

End Quote Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow planning minister

"It's going to open up such a lot of advice and information for us," she told BBC News.

"It's not only the £100,000 funding that we'll get, which of course we're going to spend wisely and will help enormously, but it's also raising the town's profile."

Those areas unsuccessful so far will still be able to bid for a share of a £5.5m being made available for individual projects, Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said.

"Things are tough for everybody, and retail in particular," Mr Shapps said.

Latest figures show the recession in the UK deepening and the output of the retail sector falling.

"This process isn't going to just wipe away the backdrop of what's going on in the eurozone and the rest of it, but it is part of the solution," he said.

Cutting red tape

More than 11% of town centre shops are currently empty across the UK and the number of shoppers has been falling.

Last week, the Department for Communities announced measures to try to revitalise High Streets, in response to recommendations in Ms Portas's report.

Ministers say they will cut red tape to make it easier for business people to move into empty premises and open so-called pop-up shops.

Retailers will now also have up to two years to apply for planning permission instead of having to do so immediately.

But critics suggest high rents and rates are a more serious obstacle to reviving High Streets.

Shadow planning minister Roberta Blackman-Woods said: "There are now a record 23,406 empty shops in town centres alone but ministers are still failing to grasp the seriousness of the situation.

"This government's failed economic policy and double-dip recession made in Downing Street is clearly damaging High Streets across the country and short-term schemes like this will not be enough to save them."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 355.

    @347
    I don't think our world-beating chancellor has ever been further north than Watford. Infact, I don't think he's been outside his front door, certainly no one has seen him since he got into No.11. You have to point out where Newcastle is on a map for him, as I'm sure he thinks it's in another country.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 354.

    No disposable income!
    How difficult is it to understand that Osborne
    Strewth

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 353.

    Several times a week, my mum would walk two miles into town, queue to pay in each shop then lug the lot back several hours later.

    Lots of shops and no car parks.

    Now we don't have the time so we drive to a supermarket where everything is under one roof and we queue once before driving home. Or order online.

    Traditional high streets need housewives.

    Just accept things have changed.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 352.

    So, people don't shop in town anymore. No amount of money is going to revive the High St. Convert the shops into housing!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 351.

    How much was Mary Portas paid for this compared to the investment? No wonder this country is a shambles

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 350.

    Landlords want high rents. Councils want high rates and high parking charges. Local independent traders are screwed whatever they do. The high street as we knew it will soon be gone never to return.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 349.

    It will be interesting to see how this investment is going to work.
    There are only certain types of shops that can realistically work on a high street.
    The cost of property and labour mean that its impossible for independent shops to compete with the Internet or supermarkets.
    So unless rents can be subsidised, the investment should help add a few coffee and pound shops.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 348.

    We in the UK are really very good at throwing money into a duff project.
    Local Councils so desperate for money that any penny screwed from Car Parking and Ratepayers so gratefully received.
    They have to take on the responsibilty.
    Because Central Government accepts responsibilty for nothing.
    If anything goes wrong,no matter what....
    Just blame someone,anyone,not connected with them.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 347.

    The first batch of towns and most of them are in London! What about the North??

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 346.

    the days of the high street shoppings is over. when will we see that and prehaps change the way we use them ie cheap accomadation for people and if ou need to have shops in your town centres charge taxes and rents that givethe shop owners achance to make aliving

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 345.

    high streets have suffered due to these big out of town stores etc and over pricing on the rates charged by councils this is the area that needs sorting bring back high street stores and get people going there buying will help councils can maintain the street better with fair funding.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 344.

    I think that the time has come to reshuffle this Chancellor and appoint someone with at the very least 'work experience' in running our countries economy. Someone who has the guts to stand up and be heard, not blaming everyone else for the traffic lights sticking on amber.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 343.

    wow.. £100k per town.... thats a few new litter bins then!!!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 342.

    I think it's time for plan B.

    How can we turn the existing buildings into living accommodation or leisure facilities like Cafe/Restaurant etc. and how can we pedestrianise as much as possible with open spaces but still have enough free parking? Pointless waste of money to continue with what we have, it's dieing on it's feet! Time to move on.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 341.

    Usually I need just to buy a few items. However, by the time you either park and ride or find a car park, pay then walk halfway down the high street it turns into an ordeal compared to the overnight post which is a few mouse clicks away or the convenience of the out of town superstore. Sorry, High Street this is reality.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 340.

    The amounts awarded won't go far. Particularly after local politico's get their finger in the pie.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 339.

    @ 337. GreenInker

    I partially disagree. A great many shoppers do indeed care about price, but more often than not they'll still end up buying the exact same item, same quality, just from the place which sells it the cheapest (most likely online these days).

    Ultimately, convenience is king, and online shopping has boomed.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 338.

    No wonder people don't use town centres - miles of double yellow lines, officious traffic wardens, expensive gloomy car parks and long distances to walk. If local authorities/Government are serious about encouraging people back into towns then make them easier for people to use. Town centres were designed for an earlier age, they need updating.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 337.

    Part of the problem is that the typical English shopper cares more about price than about quality, so always heads for the cheapest seller.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 336.

    @323. Brighton is still full and still busy.

    .. and if has some excellent independent shops. However, it has good public transport from a large catchment area and can afford to ignore those in the rural surroundings.

    Sadly many other towns do not enjoy this and if transport or parking is difficult then people will simply go elsewhere or use alternative methods of shopping.

 

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