Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has pledged his support to local authorities bidding for a share of £675 million to transform their town centres into modern, vibrant community hubs.
Local authorities across the West Midlands are bidding for a share of the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.
The money will help regenerate town centres through a range of initiatives, which could include improving transport networks, converting retail units into new homes, or restoring historic high street buildings to create new work spaces or cultural venues.
The Mayor, a former managing director of John Lewis, said: “From my own experience in the retail industry, I know how important it is for high streets to be lively, busy places that people want to go to. When town centres have large, empty shop fronts in key locations, this starts a downward spiral, with fewer people visiting and more businesses closing as a result.
“We need to reverse this decline. Successful bids for the Future High Streets Fund will give our member authorities further support to deliver the innovative, transformational change that is so much needed to benefit more of our communities. We will work with them to develop business cases and a range of investment opportunities.
“Here in the West Midlands we are already getting on with revitalising our high streets. For example, we recently announced £20 million of our own funding to speed up the regeneration of five town centres.”
The Mayor has written a letter of support to the Government for each West Midlands local authority that is bidding for funds.
In addition to the £675 million being made available from the Government, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has already set aside £20 million to unlock land for regeneration in five town centres: Bilston; St Thomas Quarter in Dudley; Bordesley Green in Birmingham; St Matthews Quarter in Walsall; and West Bromwich.
Further town centres from the West Midlands will be eligible for WMCA support later in the year, building on the experience from the first five.
A Regional Task Force is also being created, bringing together experts from retail, finance, housing, universities and Government to share their knowledge.
This support for town centres is part of the WMCA’s wider commitment to focus regeneration efforts and housing delivery on existing areas and brownfield land.