Council bids for multi-million pound cash injection for town centre

Weston-super-Mare’s high street could benefit from a big cash boost, as North Somerset Council has put forward an expression of interest for a multi-million pound government pot.

A share of £675 million is being made available to local authorities through a new funding project, the Government Future High Streets Fund, and North Somerset Council has submitted a proposal for £10 million to make significant improvements to Weston-super-Mare town centre.

The scheme has been set up to 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 a new work space or cultural venues.

In addition to the High Street Fund, there will also be £40m out of the £675m made available to Historic England to set up a parallel Historic Future High Street Fund – Regenerating Historic High Streets. This is to be launched in the spring and used to create 60 new Heritage Action Zones. North Somerset Council hopes to bid for a portion of this through the Great Weston Heritage Action Zone.

Alex Hearn, Assistant Director (Placemaking and Growth) at North Somerset Council, said: “Shopping habits are starting to change, as shoppers are looking more towards a visitor experience than a purely retail one. As retail starts to move away from a homogenous high street, more variety is starting to emerge. We are committed to continuingly seek to invest in Weston’s town centre and hope that this bid forms part of that future investment.”

Future High Streets Fund is a two-stage bidding process, with the next stage taking place in 2020.

The Future High Streets bid is part of the Weston Town Centre Regeneration Programme that is delivering improvements to key development sites and positively encouraging investment within the town.