A bid to secure a share of a new multi-million funds to accelerate the regeneration of North Yorkshire’s principal market town could become the catalyst for addressing problems facing high streets in the surrounding area.
Hambleton District Council is seeking a portion of the Government’s £675m Future High Streets Fund for “aspirational” new projects in Northallerton, but members of the council’s scrutiny committee said they are keen for efforts to boost high streets to be spread across the district’s other market towns of Bedale, Thirsk, Easingwold and Stokesley.
Northallerton is however deemed the most likely of the town centres able to demonstrate sufficient challenges to compete for the funding, and Bedale councillor John Noone said: “It would be pointless submitting a bid for the smaller market towns if it would not tick the boxes.”
Ideas mooted for using any funds include a change of use to empty spaces above shops, developing the night-time economy, providing parking spaces with ‘intelligent parking’ sensors and developing a history trail.
Road and pavement improvements and better connections between residential areas and the high street have also been suggested.
Another Bedale councillor, Carl Les, said any success in Northallerton could offer a blueprint for other centres to follow.
“Having some external funding is always welcome. If that helps provide a concept for the high street and funding is not there to do something somewhere else, there’s no reason why that concept can’t be replicated,” said Coun Les, who is also the leader of North Yorkshire County Council.
Footfall in market towns across North Yorkshire is “quite strong” but “is not necessary equating to business income”, he said, adding that people may be window shopping and then buying online.
The Yorkshire Post’s Love Your High Street campaign is raising awareness of problems facing high streets. More than 8,000 shops have closed over the last 18 months.
FUNDING BID ON YORKSHIRE COAST
A VISION to transform Scarborough into the country’s best performing coastal town centre has been heralded as vital to its future economy.
The plans for the town’s High Street involve by creating a “smart” town with wi-fi internet and 4G coverage, transforming empty stores with pop-up shops and staging year-round cultural events to attract more visitors.
Scarborough Borough Council is to bid for a share of £675m announced by the Government as part of its Future High Streets Fund. The council’s overview and scrutiny board backed the plan yesterday, and Coun Tony Randerson said: “It is vital that we get it right.”