The Future High Streets Fund has launched as councils are invited to bid for a share of the pot to reinvigorate their town centres.
The fund, which was first announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in the Autumn Budget in a bid to reinvigorate struggling high streets across the UK, was officially launched on Boxing Day by high streets minister and MP Jake Berry.
The £675m will be allocated to towns across the UK based on bids by local councils illustrating how they would use the cash injection to enliven their local high street.
Up to £55m of the fund has been earmarked for the regeneration of ‘heritage high streets’ which have older properties that can be transformed into work spaces or cultural venues.
The fund was launched based on the findings of an expert panel led by John Timpson, which published The High Street Report detailing suggestions to modernise town centres earlier this month.
Timpson suggested that all measures to reinvigorate high streets must be launched on a case-by-case basis and led by local authorities. He also recommended a focus on ensuring transport and parking restrictions do not deter shoppers from going to their local high streets and repurposing unused retail space to create community hubs.
Berry said: “We all know high streets are changing, we can’t hide from this reality. But we’re determined to ensure they continue to sit at the heart of our communities for generations to come.
“To do this we have to support investment in infrastructure, boosting local economies and ensuring people are able to get the most out of their local high streets. Empowering leaders on the ground is key too – they best understand the challenges facing their areas.
“Our Future High Streets Fund will drive forward this change, transforming our town centres into the thriving community hubs of the future.”
Timpson added: “By helping our towns create their own individual community hub, I believe we will have vibrant town centres to provide a much-needed place for face-to-face contact in the digital age.”