Empty shop cash boost for Yarmouth

GREAT Yarmouth has been boosted by the news it is to receive a slice of �3m government cash to help regenerate the town centre by putting empty shops back into use.

GREAT Yarmouth has been boosted by the news it is to receive a slice of �3m government cash to help regenerate the town centre by putting empty shops back into use.

Communities Secretary John Denman announced on Thursday that 57 areas in the UK hardest hit by the recession would receive funding to try to revitalise town and city centres that have suffered due to shop closures.

Each council will receive a grant of more than �50,000 to use as they see fit on ideas to boost town centres and transform empty shops into something useful such as a meeting place, a learning centre or a even a showroom for local artists.

It is hoped the �52,632 awarded to Yarmouth will help bring back into use several of the closed shops, which have damaged confidence among customers and businesses.

Barry Coleman, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, welcomed the cash boost from the government.

“Anything that will help us is to be accepted,” he said.

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“We've been working with Enterprise Great Yarmouth with some innovative ways of getting some of the shops in the Victoria Arcade open, which has been a particular problem, by encouraging people to set up new businesses.

“Anything that's going to help us maintain the town centre will be appreciated. It's been a core piece of our policy to try and keep the town centre as vibrant as possible. It's difficult at this time with the recession so anything that will help us will be accepted.”

The borough council has been offering empty shop units to new, independent retailers and giving them the chance to trade there for a year.

Jonathan Newman, Yarmouth town centre manager, said he hoped some of the money awarded by the government could be used to extend the scheme.

“It's quite an innovative scheme and depends very much on working with the landlord to make the premises available,” he said.

“But what this money could possibly do is allow this scheme to be replicated in other parts of the town centre.

“It's good that Yarmouth has been awarded this funding and I look forward to it being used by the borough council to benefit the town centre.”

The grants are part of a wider package of real help the government has put in place for town centres, including a new practical guide launched in April to help high streets combat the recession.

Mr Denham said: “We know that the downturn has really hurt high streets in areas of high deprivation across England. These grants will help to transform and re-open empty shops as part of our real help to keep town centres vibrant and combat the recession.”

He added: “There is no need to see unused shops on our high streets going to waste, especially when we know that it doesn't take a lot to turn a vacant shop into something beneficial for the community.”

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