Worcester MP Robin Walker has welcomed the news that Worcester’s proposal for Blackfriars and northern city centre has been selected to go forward into the next phase of the Future High Streets Fund (FHSF).

Last month, the Government set out a plan to unite and level up across our country, boosting our cities, our towns, our coastal communities and rural areas. The Government committed £3.6 billion to the Towns Fund demonstrating a commitment to prosperity in towns across the country, which included increasing the FHSF to £1 billion.

In addition, a High Streets Task Force is being set up as part of a wider offer to high streets and town centres. The Task Force will provide hands-on support to local areas to develop data-driven, innovative strategies, provide training and connect local areas to relevant experts. This will include providing support to some authorities in development of their business cases.

Blackfriars has the potential to be front and centre of this approach with plans to establish an ‘urban neighbourhood’. The development of ‘The Arches’ is just one of the transformative proposals that could expand the leisure, residential and cultural offers in the centre.

Robin welcomed the news that Worcester’s proposal has made it into the business case development phase of the FHSF.  As a successful FHS Fund candidate, Worcester’s application team will now receive up to £150,000 to develop detailed project proposals that can be submitted for capital funding of up to £25million.

This is further good news for the High Street with figures from Worcester’s BID showing the 2018 Christmas period bucking the national trend and enjoying a 0.3 per cent rise in visitors compared to the previous year. Cities across the country saw a 3.2 per cent drop on average last Christmas, with the festive period traditionally being the most active time of the year.

Speaking after the announcement, Robin said:

“In my time as Worcester’s MP, I have been a huge supporter of the Worcester High Street and I have campaigned tirelessly for local business support, and business rates relief and retention and was pleased to see this announcement.”

“We are tremendously fortunate here in Worcester to have such a fantastic High Street and a great mix of shops in the city, but there are areas on the periphery that need support, like The Tything and Barbourne Road. I meet regularly with the City’s Chamber of Commerce to discuss various ideas, development plans and initiatives to stimulate and maintain growth in our business sector; the Worcester BID also works incredibly hard to support the High Street within the City.”

“Shortly, I will be launching my very own Independent Business Awards to showcase the fantastic local establishments we have in Worcester. There are many exciting ongoing developments within the City, earlier this year we received great news of a £3million boost into renovating and repurposing eight railway arches for creative and dynamic business space and this fresh bid for a share of the £1billion High Street Fund, if successful, would prove life changing to many residents in the city; from consumer, to employee, to employer.”

“I look forward to making the strongest case possible for Worcester, though our fantastic and thriving High Street largely speaks for itself.”

Speaking outside the Guildhall yesterday, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said:

“High streets have a crucial role to play as we work to grow the economy of all parts of the country.

“Our fund is key to delivering this, empowering local leaders to help transform their high streets and town centres as consumer habits change, by investing in housing, workplaces, infrastructure and culture.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

To read more about Robin’s support for Worcester’s High Street:

https://www.walker4worcester.com/category/campaigns/help-the-high-street/

For more information on the Future High Streets Fund, please see:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/future-high-streets-fund-call-for-proposals