Five Yorkshire towns to get share of £1bn high street rescue fund

Five towns in Yorkshire will be awarded a share of £1bn to help regenerate their "ailing" high streets.

An extra 50 towns and cities across England will benefit from a share of a 1bn fund to revitalise ailing high streets - including five towns in Yorkshire. Picture by Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.
An extra 50 towns and cities across England will benefit from a share of a 1bn fund to revitalise ailing high streets - including five towns in Yorkshire. Picture by Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.

Barnsley, Elland, Northallerton, Scarborough and Doncaster's Waterdale area have all been named among an extra 50 towns and cities across the country that have been chosen to benefit from the Government's High Streets Fund.

Aimed at revitalising struggling high streets, the funding can be used for schemes that improve transport links, convert empty shops into new homes and offices, or deliver other benefits.

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Each area will receive up to £150,000 to support the development of detailed project proposals that can be submitted to the Government for capital funding.

Scarborough has been chosen as one of 50 new recipients of the High Streets Fund. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "Our high streets are right at the heart of our communities, and I will do everything I can to make sure they remain vibrant places where people want to go, meet and spend their money.

"But with our town centres facing challenges, we're today expanding the High Streets Fund to support over 100 high streets to regenerate - backed by £1bn of vital investment.

"This scheme is going to re-energise and transform even more of our high streets - helping them to attract new businesses, boost local growth, and create new infrastructure and jobs."

Picture of decline

The decline of high streets has been well-documented by The Yorkshire Post as part of the Love Your High Street campaign.

Launched last year in partnership with its sister titles, it revealed that more than 8,000 shops had closed over the last 18 months, tens of thousands of jobs had been lost and one in eight shop units were vacant.

Praise for Yorkshire towns

In total, some 21 areas in the North of England have been named as new recipients of the High Streets Fund, including Grimsby, Middlesbrough, Scunthorpe and Loftus in Redcar and Cleveland.

However, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick reserved particular praise for the level of ambition for transformation that has been shown in Northallerton and Scarborough.

Mr Jenrick said: "Northallerton has developed exciting and forward-thinking proposals that aim to reengage the local community with their town centre by redesigning the high street as a business and enterprise hub with a digital, social and community-led focus.

"Scarborough’s vision for its town centre is clear – it wants to become a hub of leisure, learning and living by building on its rich culture and heritage and developing new residential and community strategies.

"This government is investing to ensure our towns and cities succeed and prosperity and opportunities are shared across the country.”

Fund recipients doubled

Today's announcement doubles the number of areas that have been allocated a share of the fund.

Ian Warren, co-founder of Centre for Towns, the independent town research unit, said: "We of course welcome this announcement, which means a total of 100 towns in England are now in line to benefit from additional funding to support their high streets.

"High streets are an indelible symbol of the health and vitality of our towns.

"People within our towns really feel the demise of their high street and we’re pleased that the Government appear to fully recognise this.

"It is essential that the selected towns, and all towns, bring local people with them when deciding how to regenerate their high streets."

Challenges remain

Professor Will Jennings, also co-founder of Centre for Towns, said it was important that the investment addresses "fundamental challenges faced by towns under the UK's current economic model".

And Labour MP for Wigan, Lisa Nandy, said declining high streets constitute a "national crises" and that a "continuing obsession" in the Treasury with cities as sole engines of economic growth needed to be overcome.

"We will hold the Government’s feet to the fire and hope they now recognise the need for a fundamental change in approach with greater investment, powers and respect for the millions of people who live outside of our cities," she said.