High street funding 'critical' to Fylde coast economic recovery

Funding for town centres is 'critical' to economic recoveryFunding for town centres is 'critical' to economic recovery
Funding for town centres is 'critical' to economic recovery | jpimedia
Bids are being finalised and submitted by the Fylde coast’s three councils for a share of the Government’s £1bn Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) – with economic chiefs warning they need the cash as quickly as possible.

Wyre Council submitted its bid on Wednesday (June 3), with Blackpool and Fylde due to lodge theirs before the end of July.

Nick Gerrard, growth and prosperity programme director at Blackpool Council, said the funding was more vital than ever as coastal communities were predicted to face the biggest challenges to economic recovery following lockdown.

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He told a meeting of the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Prosperity Board the “biggest message we’re giving out particularly to government” is the raised importance of FHSF and Town Deal funding.

He said: “These were important and critical to our economic futures before coronavirus.

“Post coronavirus and as we begin to emerge out of lockdown and start to get our economies going again, the need for speedy approval of these plans becomes all the more critical.”

Marianne Hesketh, corporate director for communities at Wyre Council, said they had submitted a FHSF bid for £22m with emphasis placed on projects including bringing more housing to the high street, flood defence and public realm work, and specific schemes focused on Fleetwood Museum and Fleetwood Market.

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Allan Oldfield, chief executive of Fylde Council, said their bid included looking at how public space could be used to help businesses.

He added: “Lytham in particular wants to get their cafe culture up and running. We have a lot of leading restaurateurs offering take-away services and more concessions on the seafront are opening.”

He said the tourism industry was “raring to go again”, but the council was having to rein it in at the moment.

Blackpool Council has previously said it would be seeking £5m from the FHSF towards phase two of the Houndshill shopping centre.

All three councils are also including a request for £800,000 each towards the Fylde Coast Rail Study to establish how a loop, using tram or rail, could link key centres across the Fylde peninsula.