Portas project to support 15 more towns
6 August, 2012
Fifteen more English towns will get an injection of cash under plans to revive high streets by retail guru Mary Portas.
As Peach Report reported in May, the government has already pledged money to a dozen ‘Portas Pilot’ towns following Portas' review of problems afflicting the high street. The 15 new allocations go to Ashford, Berwick, Braintree, Brighton, Hatfield, Leamington, Liverpool, Loughborough, Lowestoft, Morecambe, Rotherham and Tiverton, as well as three areas of London boroughs: Lower Marsh and the Cut in Lambeth, Forest Hill, Kirkdale and Sydenham in Lewisham and Chrisp Street, Watney Market and Roman Road in Tower Hamlets.
The pilots will share a £1.5m pot of funding as well as support from government, Portas and others. Some of the 15 plans incorporate ideas for food markets—but none makes specific reference to the value of pubs and restaurants in regenerating high streets, and some have wondered whether the support is doing any more than paying lip service to high streets.
The government has also announced another support package for the 392 towns not chosen for funding as Portas Pilots. Worth £5.5m, it will give ‘Town Team Partners’ from those locations access to events, workshops, mentoring support and networking opportunities, plus a new web-based encyclopedia called ‘100 Ways to Help the High Street’, backed by the Association of Town Centre Management.
Portas said: “I am thrilled that communities up and down the country have looked beyond the money and have been mobilised to create 'town teams' and demand more for their high streets. Whilst I shall continue to fight for the other 27 'recommendations' in my Review I am looking forward to seeing fifteen more British towns putting their plans into action.”
Local government minister Grant Shapps said: “I'd like to congratulate the 15 town teams that, in the face of stiff competition, have been selected to be the next Portas Pilots. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, and I'm determined that we don't turn our backs on the other 392 Town Teams who put their plans forward to revive their high streets. That's why I'm calling on these communities, led by their MPs, to put themselves forward once again to become Town Team Partners. Each one that applies will benefit from a package of support to refine their plans and get the help and advice they need to bring their town centres back to life.”