£1m fund launched to reward successful high streets

A competition aimed at rewarding towns that have made the greatest improvements to their high streets was launched this morning by the housing minister.

Housing minister Grant Shapps
Housing minister Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps said that the Future High Street X-Fund had been set up to reward towns whose high streets had seen the greatest increases in footfall or turnover, or improved skills and employment levels among local people.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said that in order to be eligible for a share of the £1 million fund, towns would have to present evidence of how their high streets have been improved, as well as how they would spend their share of the fund were they to be successful.

Entries will be judged by a panel of independent experts, the department said.

Shapps said: "For those who make the greatest improvements to their high streets, I look forward to awarding them with a share of the £1million Future High Street X-Fund so that they can continue their sterling work to bring their town centres back to life."

Launching the fund, Shapps also urged MPs, who return to parliament next week, to support towns in their constituencies in putting forward further bids for high street funding.

In July this year, Shapps announced that the 392 towns that had failed in their bids to become ‘Portas Pilots’ could apply to become Town Team Partners and gain support from a £5.5 million fund, as well as advice from a range of organisations, including professional body the Association of Town Centre Management and charity Business in the Community.

In total, 27 towns have been designated as Portas Pilots and charged with testing policies set out by retail guru Mary Portas in her review of the future of England’s high-streets, published in December last year.

Today Shapps urged MPs representing towns that had failed to become Portas Pilots to support their communities in bidding for Town Team Partner status.

He said: "It's time to put our towns first. That's why today I'm calling on MPs to apply for their towns to become Town Team Partners, so that communities can put their plans into action with the backing of retail experts as well as learning the lessons from other town teams from across the country."

Further information on the Town Team Partner programme can be found here and the prospectus for the Future High Street X-Fund can be found here.

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