£1m cashpot for resort businesses

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Businesses are set to share in a £1m funding pot aimed at breathing new life into parts of Blackpool town centre.

The council has launched the scheme in order to overhaul streets linking areas where millions of pounds is already being spent on regeneration.

Traders in Topping Street, Deansgate, Edward Street, and parts of Church Street and Talbot Road are being urged to apply for some of the funding.

They could use it to improve the fronts of their properties in order to make key town centre streets more attractive.

However, business considered to have a negative impact on the area – such as betting shops or those offering high interest loans – will not be eligible.

Blackpool Council is providing up to £100,000 of the funding, with the rest coming from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

It is part of a programme of work including improving roads leading into the town centre, and extending the tramway up Talbot Road to North Station.

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This scheme is part of a wider regeneration project which aims to encourage the economic revitalisation of Blackpool town centre through a programme of highways, public realm and building improvement works.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for building owners or businesses to improve their properties at very little cost to themselves.

“I would encourage businesses in the designated area to get in touch and speak to a member of the team who can talk them through the application process.

“We have run similar schemes in the past and it is amazing to see what a difference exterior works can make to the whole appearance of a street or area.”

Businesses will be able to apply for grants to meet up to 95 per cent of the cost of the works. Examples of improvements the council would consider funding include structural work, brick work, roofing, guttering or new doors.

There will be no cap on individual grants, with each project considered on its own merit.

Owners of eligible properties will receive a letter in coming days and the scheme will run until March 2020.

Michael Williams, chairman of Blackpool BID (business improvement district), urged businesses to apply for a share of the funding.

He said: “Blackpool BID are delighted to support this initiative and would encourage all eligible businesses to contact the council to see how they can benefit from the scheme.

“It is win win for everyone. The businesses will have new and improved shop frontages which in turn will enhance shoppers’ experience of the town centre.

“It is great to see town centre businesses and the council working together to improve business and the environment for the benefit of everyone.”

Business owners said it was right to inject some money into the area.

Paul Powers, who has traded at The Barber Shop on Topping Street for 34 years, said: “A lot money has been spent developing the Houndshill Centre and the area where Sainsbury’s is, but Topping Street is a void.

“There are so many empty shops down here now that if something isn’t done soon Topping Street will be dead, it will be the next Cookson Street.”

Lisa Stanley, of The Cutting Room hairdressers on Edward Street, said parts of the area were scruffy.

She said: “I definitely think it’s a good idea because while there has been a lot of regeneration in the area, the small businesses have not had a lot of support.

“They have been shutting roads so it’s about time they gave businesses some money to look a bit nicer.

“It might attract more trade and parts of the town do look scruffy.”

The council has previously run the Townscape Heritage Initiative which also offered financial assistance for businesses to improve their premises.

Projects included a £200,000 refurbishment of the Abingdon Street Market which was unveiled in 2012.