Council’s Future High Streets Fund bid goes forward to next stage
5 July 2019
Cheshire East Council has received news that one of its bids to the government’s Future High Streets Fund has been put forward for the next stage of assessment.
The new £675m Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) was set up to support and fund local areas’ plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future.
Earlier this year – and following an independent assessment of all towns in the borough by an expert consultancy team – the council submitted two bids to the fund; one for Crewe and one for Macclesfield.
Yesterday, the authority received notification that its bid for Crewe town centre had been selected to go forward into the next phase of assessment, which will involve the development of a full business case for capital investment by the FHSF.
The news gives a further boost to regeneration plans for Crewe town centre and follows on from recent announcements regarding the remodelling and refurbishment of Crewe Market Hall and redevelopment of the Royal Arcade site.
Councillor Nick Mannion, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member for environment and regeneration, said: “This is great news for Crewe but we recognise that we need to do a lot more work to build the business case for funding.
“We have laid solid foundations for regeneration but believe there’s a lot more that can be done to help Crewe achieve its potential and re-establish itself as the primary destination in south Cheshire for residents and visitors.”
The council will now work with local stakeholders to prioritise the key projects it wishes to take forward and will investigate development options for existing council assets, which could be used to diversify the range of uses in the town centre and attract more people to spend time there.
This could include opportunities for environmental improvements, better connectivity, green technology and a wider range of homes in the heart of the town.
To support the council in developing its business case, it will be awarded a resource funding grant.
During a second round of FHSF applications in 2020, other towns in Cheshire East will be given further consideration.
The council has so far received no notification – either way – regarding its FHSF bid for Macclesfield. However, the authority will shortly be submitting an expression of interest to Historic England for the High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme.
There are strict criteria for this fund, the main one being that the scheme needs to be in a conservation area in a town centre.
Macclesfield was put forward for this fund following the commissioning of an expert consultant team to undertake an independent assessment of all towns in the borough, and to recommend which town centre should be the subject of any expressions of interest.
This assessment recommended that Macclesfield would perform best against the criteria.
Cllr Mannion said: “It can be presumed that we have not been successful with our bid for Macclesfield and while this is obviously very disappointing news, we will continue to push on with our plans and strategy to deliver a revitalised Macclesfield town centre – ensuring it is a great place to live, work and visit.”
In September, Cabinet is due to consider the strategic regeneration framework for Macclesfield, which sets out the re-energised vision, strategy and ‘route map’ to deliver jobs and economic growth in the town centre.
The framework – which went out to public consultation earlier this year and is being recommended for approval and adoption by cabinet – also includes high-level objectives for the town centre and a series of priority next steps for translating the vision into tangible action.
- Further information about the Future High Streets Fund is available via the council’s regeneration projects pages.