Brendan Clarke-Smith Column: New strategy will see high streets thrive after Covid-19
As ‘Freedom Day’ arrived on Monday, it was also great to get more time to discuss the launch of the Government’s new Build Back Better High Streets Strategy.
The regeneration of the great British high street was a key part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s landmark Levelling Up speech, which set out the steps the Conservative Government will take to deliver on its central mission – to level up and unite every part of the United Kingdom.
Measures in the strategy include extending pavement licences and the outdoor sales of alcohol for twelve months; empowering councils to take over vacant buildings through compulsory purchase orders so they can be converted into high quality homes; and backing more entrepreneurs, start-ups and independent businesses through new guidance for areas on how they can best support local businesses.
As part of the Government’s drive to improve the look and feel of high streets, the strategy also increases funding for ‘mini-Holland’ schemes to encourage cycling, walking and green forms of travel; introduces plans to eradicate the scourge of chewing gum litter blighting our high streets, along with new guidance for councils to manage graffiti; and outlines how millions of trees will be planted on high streets to improve green spaces.
It will also be easier for people to hold street parties and picnics during national celebrations like the Euros and Commonwealth Games, as well as for Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, encouraging local events so that communities across the UK can come together and celebrate local culture and pride.
Further details have also been published setting out how community groups can bid for up to £250,000 in matched funding through the Government’s new £150 million Community Ownership Fund to take over local pubs, theatres, shops and sports grounds at risk of closure.
In some cases, up to £1 million will be made available to establish sports clubs or help to buy sports grounds at risk without community intervention.
I also arranged a meeting with Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng to discuss investment into Bassetlaw and how we can support levelling up across our area.
We discussed the importance of regeneration of our town centres and in particular the problems we have experienced in Worksop with our high street, which is in great need of investment. I will continue to make the case for extra funding locally and it’s vital that we take advantage of all of the schemes available to us.