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In a major boost for local high streets, up to £830 million from the Future High Streets Fund will be invested in 72 areas across England, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced on Boxing Day (26 December 2020).

The funding will help these areas transform their high streets into vibrant hubs for future generations and to protect and create thousands of jobs.

In a key milestone for the government’s levelling up agenda, this investment will help areas to recover from the pandemic while also driving long term growth.

Mortgages for Business – MPU

It will enable the delivery of ambitious regeneration plans, drawn up by places, and fund new local projects such as improvements to transport infrastructure, new homes and the transformation of underused spaces.

The funding will also help to protect and create thousands of jobs in a range of industries, delivering opportunities and prosperity to communities across England. Confirmed plans include:

  • £24.6 million to support the delivery of 186 new homes, road safety improvements and a permanent new space for the historic market in Birkenhead.
  • £17.9 million to boost Worcester town centre by renovating the Scala Theatre and Corn Exchange, transforming underused space to create new homes for first time buyers and improving connectivity.
  • £25 million for Swindon’s plans to modernise its town centre, including a new public transport hub and improved cycle and pedestrian routes.

This funding is part of wider support we’re providing to communities and businesses, to protect jobs, support the most vulnerable and ensure no one is left behind as we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic head on.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

“The year ahead will be a big one for the high street as it seeks to recover, adapt and evolve as a result of the pandemic.”

“Today’s £830 million investment from the Future High Streets Fund is one of many ways the government is working to help our much-loved town centres get through this and prosper into the future.”

“The role of high street has always evolved. We want to support that change and make sure that they are the beating heart of their local community – with high quality housing and leisure in addition to shops and restaurants.”

This investment will help us build back better and make town centres a more attractive place to live, work and visit.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

“We are supporting our high streets to get through this pandemic through business grants, paying people’s wages and tax deferrals.”

“The Future High Streets Fund will help areas bounce back through regeneration projects that level up opportunities and create jobs right across the country.”

The Future High Streets Fund was launched in December 2018 and is a key part of this government’s plan to renew and reshape town centres – making them a more attractive place to live, work and visit. £107 million of the Future High Streets Fund has been allocated to DCMS to support the regeneration of heritage high streets.

The Future High Streets Fund is just one of the ways the government is supporting the retail and hospitality sector. During the pandemic, it was made easier for areas to adapt to the challenges they faced.

This included making it easier to demolish and rebuild unused buildings to create homes with the government’s High Street Homes Permitted Development Rights; providing restaurants, pubs and cafes with the freedom to offer takeaway services; and making it easier for businesses and communities to host markets and stalls so customers can be served safely.

In May the government launched a fund to help councils reopen high streets safely and recently announced that retailers will be able to extend their opening hours over the festive period to help keep shoppers and staff safe.

This month the government extended protections from the threat of eviction for businesses unable to pay their rent until March 2021, taking the duration of these measures to one year.

The recent proposals for the new Parking Code of Practice will support shoppers visiting their local high street by introducing a tiered approach to private car parking fines and ensuring a fair appeals process.

The government are also reviewing the provision of public toilets to ensure that there are appropriate facilities for visitors to town centres.

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