Chester has been chosen as one of the first cities in the UK to benefit from a national scheme designed to boost footfall and fill empty shops in the city centre.
CH1ChesterBID, the city's Business Improvement District operator, will join the Healthy High Streets campaign, which was created by the charity Business in the Community and is backed by Boots UK, the Co-operative Group, Marks & Spencer and Santander.
The BID was approved in July through a ballot of businesses in the retail core, who agreed to accept a 1% levy on business rates in order to fund £2.5m of improvements over five years.
The UK-wide Healthy High Streets initiative aims to create 3,000 jobs, increase footfall by 10% and reduce empty property units by 20% over a three-year period in 100 towns and cities.
Paul Daniels, chairman of CH1ChesterBID Company, said: "We're over the moon to have been selected for the Healthy High Streets project and believe it will provide additional support to the plans we already have in place to revitalise our city centre and re-establish Chester as one of the UK's best destinations.
"The BID team has done a magnificent job in getting Chester involved in such a huge national campaign. This support in addition to the £2.5m investment and range of benefits that Chester's BID will bring will really give our city centre a fantastic opportunity for future growth and success."
Chester was one of 29 towns and cities selected in the first round of the Healthy High Streets project. Each location is assigned a High Street Champion from one of the supporting companies and Boots UK – a founding member of CH1ChesterBID – will be providing support for Chester.
The first meeting held by the BID welcomed the Campaign's Healthy High Street team, and included a walkabout through the city centre.
Addressing three key themes of driving footfall, reducing vacancies, and returning pride, Pete Vallance, head of region at the Healthy High Street Campaign, said: "The visit to Chester was good for store managers from the founding partners of the campaign to connect their businesses and the BID team. This initial visit gave us a chance to undertake a baseline benchmark of the town, and now the champions and the BID team will work together to realise the vision for Chester with key support from national businesses."
Chester will now receive a bespoke package of support tailored to the exact needs of its city centre; access and engagement with corporate business leaders; extra resources and the designated champion for Chester will work closely with CH1ChesterBID.