The government has today announced that an additional 50 towns In England will benefit from the Future High Streets Fund. Fifty English towns were already shortlisted for support, bringing the total number of Future High Streets Fund towns to a hundred. Ever since we were founded in 2017, our high streets have been a priority area for us. This is because they are an issue of deep concern to people in our towns. A declining high street is a visible symbol of a town's relative prosperity and serves as a lightning rod for a raft of underlying problems our towns face. We have been pleased that many other organisations have joined our call for greater priority to be given to our high streets, including our partners at the Institute for Place Management.
Commenting on the announcement today, our co-founder Lisa Nandy MP said: "High streets in many towns are in decline. Today’s welcome announcement recognises how this is a national crisis worthy of concerted focus from all parties. We believe the underlying structural causes of high street decline need to be addressed if we are going to see the towns in our high streets recover. The effects of an ageing population and a continuing obsession in the Treasury with cities as the only engines of economic growth are two examples. Today’s welcome announcement is just a small part of what our towns need. We will hold the government’s feet to the fire and hope they now recognise the need for a fundamental change in approach with greater investment, powers and respect for the millions of people who live outside of our cities."
Professor Will Jennings from the University of Southampton and founding director at the Centre For Towns said: "It is welcome news that struggling town centre’s are receiving attention from the government. It will be important to make sure these investments aren’t sticking plasters but start to address the fundamental challenges faced by towns under the UK’s current economic model.”
Ian Warren, co-founder of the Centre For Towns, said: "We of course welcome this announcement, which means a total of one hundred towns in England are now in line to benefit from additional funding to support their high streets. High streets are an indelible symbol of the health and vitality of our towns. People within our towns really feel the demise of their high street and we’re pleased that the government appear to fully recognise this. It is essential that the selected towns, and all towns, bring local people with them when deciding how to regenerate their high streets."
We look forward to hearing more from the government and will of course follow developments closely.