From St Ives in Cornwall to St Helen’s in Merseyside, the Government has announced £80 million in funding as part of its pledge to ‘level up’ 101 towns around the country. The cash is the first part of the £3.6 billion that was promised during the summer to be used to boost regeneration and kick-start local economies.
The Towns Fund, which ranges from £500,000 up to £1 million per town, will be used to support projects that will make an improvement to the area. These could include new green spaces, the creation of pop-up business spaces, pedestrianising streets to encourage walking or cycling, or creating new community hubs to support people living alone.
Investing in economic growth and helping improve prospects for communities around England will be key to helping towns recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Sharing out funds from this initial pot will help get projects off the ground quickly in the towns selected for investment.
Now that we are all facing the prospect of a second wave of Covid-19 infections, home working is once more the preferred option. The associated downturn in commuting together with the exodus from overcrowded urban areas that has been underway in the housing market since the end of lockdown #1, means local high streets and other amenities have the potential to attract – and keep – more footfall.
The idea of turning the focus from city centre economies to local business is gaining traction and we hope this fund will help give our high streets the boost they so badly need. As traditional retail continues to suffer a slow death, the Towns Fund presents an opportunity to reimagine our town centres. To use innovative ideas to turn the dial away from the familiar but tired town centre environment and towards an exciting, mixed and sustainable local landscape that really delivers a new experience for people living in our smaller towns and regional centres.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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