The government’s long-term plan to support the evolution and regeneration of high streets was launched yesterday (15 July 2021).
Speaking from the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) in Coventry, the Prime Minister set out his vision on how the government would level up and unite the country, and his commitment to breathe new life into town centres.
The high streets strategy is a key part of the Prime Minister’s plan to level up and will deliver visible changes to local areas and communities across England, transforming derelict buildings, cleaning up our streets, and supporting a renewed sense of community for current and future generations.
Councils in England will be given the power to transform towns, taking over derelict buildings through compulsory purchase orders so they can be converted into new homes if property owners stall on regeneration plans. Councils will also be encouraged to use existing powers to convert empty offices into housing, and empty shops will be transformed into entertainment venues or thriving new businesses without the need for planning permission.
Local economies and plans for growth will be boosted with 15 Town Deals totalling £335 million confirmed today. The Town Deals will fund community regeneration projects including repurposing empty shops on high streets, creating new public spaces, transforming a riverfront area into a community hub with entertainment and leisure venues, and creating a new digital enterprise and learning centre. Town Deals have now been offered to all 101 places that were invited to develop proposals.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “As we build back better from the pandemic, we are transforming our high streets across the UK into the kind of vibrant places we will want to visit, work and call home for generations to come.
“This strategy sets out a vision for entrepreneurship to thrive, where local shops and businesses are supported with permanent al fresco dining, derelict eyesores transformed into quality homes and new hubs for business and entertainment encouraged.
“With more funding for town centres and powers for communities to take a stake in their local area, we are delivering on our commitments to level up and put power in the hands of local people. I look forward to seeing what local communities have in store for national celebrations.”
A sense of community is at the heart of the strategy, ensuring local areas are protected for current and future generations to enjoy.
New funding will be committed for ‘mini-Holland’ schemes across England to embed greener forms of transport, encouraging cycling and walking by installing segregated cycle lanes on main roads, expanding space for pedestrians and creating low-traffic neighbourhoods.