Winsford, Stretford, Birkenhead and Stockport are among towns that have won a share of up to £831m of Government funding to regenerate urban centres.
The Future High Streets Fund is intended to support the delivery of regeneration plans drawn up by councils, for example local projects such as improvements to transport infrastructure, new homes and the transformation of underused spaces.
Fifteen areas across England have been awarded a confirmed £255m from the fund, while a further 57 areas have received provisional funding offers totalling up to £576m and will work with the Government to finalise their proposals.
In the North West, the winners are:
- Stockport – £14.5m
- Winsford – (Cheshire West and Chester Council) £9.98m
- Birkenhead – (Wirral Council) £24.6m
- Stretford – (Trafford Council) £17.6m
Provisional offers have been made to:
- New Ferry (Wirral Council) – £3.2m
- Wigan – £16.6m
- Crewe (Cheshire East Council) – £14m
- Rochdale – £17m
- Farnworth, Bolton – £13m
- Oldham – £10.7m
- Kirkham Town Centre (Fylde Council) – £6.3m
- Maryport Town Centre (Allerdale Council) – £11.5m
- Carlisle city centre (Carlisle City Council) – £9.1m
In Winsford, the money will be used to deliver Cheshire West and Chester Council’s town centre masterplan, which seeks to create “a better environment for independent retailers and provide more opportunities for community meeting spaces and public services such as libraries and healthcare”, according to the council.
Plans include building a 36,000 sq ft shopping area, improving pedestrian access to the town centre and creating a public transport hub and new commercial space. There are also plans to improve public open space areas around Winsford town centre. A consultation has been conducted among local residents and stakeholders.
Cheshire West has already invested in Winsford through a larger investment programme that has included the move to purchase Winsford Cross Shopping Centre.
Wirral Council will use the money to progress its Birkenhead town centre regeneration plans, with its delivery partner Muse Developments through the Wirral Growth Company. The joint venture commenced the demolition of the Milton Pavements retail complex last month and plans to build 150,000 sq ft of offices at the site.
The next step is for the company to devise a phased approach to begin other projects in the town, which would include design and consultation work expected to be announced this year.
Anita Leech, chair of Wirral Council’s economy, regeneration and development committee, said: “We have ambitious regeneration plans for Birkenhead and the borough and are already making tangible advances in the town centre with the purchase and imminent demolition of the vacant Milton Pavements area.
“The addition of the £24.6m Future High Streets Fund will continue that momentum and will make the future of Birkenhead a reality.”
Mike Horner, development director at Muse Developments, added: “The news that Birkenhead has been awarded nearly £25m through the Future High Streets Fund is a ringing endorsement of what we’re collectively looking to achieve, both in the town centre and the wider peninsula.”
Stockport, meanwhile, is leading a significant programme of town centre improvements including an overhaul of the Merseyway shopping centre, while the Stretford masterplan includes a regeneration of the area around Stretford Mall after the council acquired the asset in September 2019.
The Future High Streets Fund was announced in 2018 and has already allocated £107m to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to help regenerate heritage high streets across the country.
Towns submitted bids for the latest round of funding in the second half of last year and the winners were announced on Boxing Day. The latest allocations are expected to play a role in boosting local economies and helping them to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “The year ahead will be a big one for the high street as it seeks to recover, adapt and evolve as a result of the pandemic.
“The role of high street has always evolved. We want to support that change and make sure that they are the beating heart of their local community – with high quality housing and leisure in addition to shops and restaurants.
“This investment will help us ‘build back better’ and make town centres a more attractive place to live, work and visit.