‘A huge show of confidence’ - Two Norfolk towns get up to £150,000 government funding
- Credit: Archant
Two Norfolk towns have been awarded £150,000 each to develop plans for reviving their ailing high streets.
Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn have both cleared the first hurdle in a race to win a slice of the government's £675m Future High Streets Fund, launched in a bid to relieve the high street woes of local authorities across the country.
In March, five of the region's councils submitted expressions of interest to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which is managing the fund.
And through now to the scheme's second phase, which will eventually see some locations receive several million pounds, the successful towns will use the grant to work up detailed proposals in order to gain further funding for transforming their town centres.
Towns in the region that missed out on the windfall are Lowestoft, Thetford and Wymondham.
Cllr Carl Smith and Cllr Trevor Wainwright, leaders of the main political groups at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: "More than 300 councils from across the country applied for a share of this £675m funding pot, and our Stage One success is a huge show of confidence in Great Yarmouth's potential and our clear vision to regenerate the historic town centre as a community hub and the heart of our borough."
They hope the fund acts as a catalyst for further private sector investment.
Sheila Oxtoby, the council's chief executive, said: "Supporting the Town Centre Masterplan, our ambition is focussed around re-introducing more residential uses back into the town centre, including along The Conge, bringing empty buildings back into use, improving linkages to the seafront and considering how to maximise opportunities for the town centre arising from both our rich cultural heritage and the role of digital and green technologies in the high street.
"We will also continue to work through our plans to improve the Market Place. These are exciting times for Great Yarmouth and we are pleased the Government recognised the strength of our bid.
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"As part of developing the business case, we look forward to engaging with the whole community to give people the chance to shape the future of their town, and we hope that everyone welcomes the potential of significant investment in their town centre," she said.
Sir Henry Bellingham, MP for West Norfolk, said King's Lynn's initial expression of interest was "one of the best parliament had ever received".
He also said the high street was having a tough time at the moment and he hoped the scheme would be used to make the town centre a destination in its own right, creating something special that complemented the history of the town.
A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said: "While it is disappointing to have missed out on this particular pot of government funding, our plans to regenerate and reinvigorate Lowestoft remain entirely on course."
Brandon Lewis MP said: "I am delighted that Great Yarmouth has been chosen as one of the areas to receive funding from the Future High Streets Fund. "Great Yarmouth Borough Council put together a comprehensive, ambitious plan for Great Yarmouth, which will generate renewed pride in our town and build confidence for the future.
"The Council have seized the opportunity that the Future High Streets Fund offers and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them on the next stages of this project to make Great Yarmouth an even more vibrant place for people to live, work and visit."
Fifty places nationally were announced on Friday (July 5) as recipients of the £150,000 grant.