Buxton through to round two of £2 million high street improvement cash bid

Spring Gardens
Spring Gardens

Buxton is through to the second round of its bid for up to £2million-worth of funding to improve its ailing high street.

The town is among 50 to be chosen to receive up to £150,000 to set out 'detailed project proposals' for a share of the government's £675m Future High Streets Fund.

After the closure of Marks and Spencer and news emerged that Dorothy Perkins will soon be closing, the announcement is a ray of hope for business leaders in Buxton.

READ MORE: Buxton's Dorothy Perkins store to close in August

High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP hopes the fund will help local leaders to reinvent their town centres by allowing them to take positive action such as improving transport and access or converting retail units into new homes.

When High Peak Borough Council began setting out its bid in February figures showed the town centre had a shop vacancy rate of 11 per cent - nearly one per cent higher than the national figure.

Tony Kemp, High Peak Borough Council’s former member for tourism, regeneration and licensing, told the Advertiser at the time how he hoped to make improvements to the town centre public realm and promote health, wellbeing and cultural activity.

He also envisaged promoting a health and wellbeing agenda with partners including Buxton Crescent, the University of Derby, Buxton Opera House and the Buxton Health Hub, and seeking alternative uses for vacant high street properties.

Speaking about today's (Friday) announcement Mr Berry said: "High Streets are a crucial part of our local economies and people care about them because they are also the centres of their community.

"But we recognise that changing consumer behaviour and the rise of online shopping presents a significant challenge and that’s why we are taking action to help them evolve.

READ MORE: Buxton bid to £675m Future High Streets Fund in move to boost town centre

"Many of our high streets are successfully re-inventing themselves and with these new plans now in development, local leaders, who know their areas best, will be driving forward the transformation of their town centres into further great success stories."

Quoted in a press release about the second-phase funding, Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Our high streets lie at the heart of local communities – creating jobs, boosting the economy and helping small businesses thrive.

"But new technology and changes in the way we shop means they also face growing challenges, so I’m delighted over 50 towns will initially benefit from this scheme.

"The funding will breathe new life into town centres and – together with measures such as small business rate cuts and opening up empty shops – will transform our high streets for the future."