Oldham Council to get £25m for their high streets
Reporter: Charlotte Green (Local Democracy Reporting)
Date published: 11 July 2019
General view of Oldham
Five towns across Greater Manchester could get up to £25 million each to reinvigorate their high streets.
Stockport, Oldham, Wigan, Stretford and Farnworth have all made the final 50 of towns picked to go through to the second phase of the Future High Streets Fund.
The £625 million national project, which is being funded by the government, is designed to make town centres ‘fit for the future’.
The cash could be used to improve transport and access into centres as well as converting shops into new homes, according to Westminster.
Prime Minister Theresa May said that the fund recognised that high streets lie at the ‘heart of local communities’.
The successful bids mean that the five town halls will now receive a grant of up to £150k to help develop a full business case.
But other boroughs who also bid for the cash have not been given an opportunity to transform their struggling towns.
Stalybridge and Hyde were among the towns put forward that didn’t make the shortlist.
Tameside council said they were ‘disappointed’ they were not successful, but added it had been a highly competitive process with more than 300 local authorities making at least one bid.
In Oldham bosses hope to ‘improve, adapt and modernise’ the town centre and believe they have submitted a strong bid.
If successful the money will go towards the new masterplan, which aims to offer a mix of employment, homes, culture, leisure and heritage attractions, as well as building the night time economy.
Council leader Sean Fielding said they have to adapt if the town centre is to compete with the ease of shopping and banking online.
“Our town centre will always have shops but people now want a bit more – something to visit, see or do that they can’t just do with a click or a swipe on a screen,” he said.
“They want a modern and vibrant place that has something for different members of the community.
“Competition will be fierce because retail’s decline is affecting every high street but if we’re successful we can use this money for important steps like addressing empty shop units, making the environment more attractive and improving the infrastructure.”
The next phase of the Future High Streets Fund will involve submission of a detailed business case over the next six to nine months.
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