The Government has revealed seven towns have been rewarded for boosting their high streets with a share of a £1m pot.
Herne Hill, Northam Road in Southampton, Altrincham in Greater Manchester, Ipswich, Market Rasen, Gloucester and Rotherham have all been awarded a slice of the High Street Renewal fund.
The fund was launched last year as part of the Portas Plus scheme, which forms part of Government’s plans to revitalise high streets.
Rotherham is the biggest winner in the group, taking £268,000 after it encouraged more independent retailers to open on the high street, including a traditional sweetshop and the country’s only Temperance Bar - a bar which does not sell alcohol. The town’s actions has resulted in an 8% jump in footfall.
Local growth minister Mark Prisk, who co-chairs the Future High Streets Forum alongside Alliance Boots chief executive of health and beauty Alex Gourlay, said the towns are a good example of how other towns can help revitalise their high streets.
He added: “It is in everyone’s interests to see our town centres thrive, and I want people across the country to take inspiration from these towns and look at what can be done when communities work together.”
The winners were judged by “a panel of experts” which included Association of Town and City Management chief executive Martin Blackwell and Alliance Boots public policy manager Andy Godfrey.
Gourlay added: “High streets are vital for the health of our communities, providing services and support that are accessible and within easy walking distance for many people.
The other six winners and their initiatives
Herne Hill, won £93, 057 – Delegated powers to manage shop frontage to a community group, converted a through road into a pedestrian zone which includes an outdoor cinema. Footfall has increased.
Northam Road, Southampton, won £88,657 – Strong local leadership and a public/private partnership is transforming it into a regional antiques centre.
Altrincham, Greater Manchester, won £148,057, also a Portas Pilot town – Landlords and retailers are working together to bring empty shops back into use, set up a Twilight Market while the council is also encouraging more people to visit the high street by lowering parking charges. This has resulted in a 58% increase in car parking use.
Ipswich, won £168,057– It is reorienting the town centre from East-West to North-South and linking it to a new waterfront development. The town is creating an events programme under the ‘Celebrate Ipswich’ banner. There are also plans to turn a vacant department store into a new leisure complex by using innovative planning permissions.
Market Rasen, won £101,057 – They have set up community shops to offer local products and put on events to bring back the traditional market.
Gloucester, won £133,057– Created a night market, encouraged independent shops and strong support to local start ups.