As we look ahead to a post-Covid world, the focus is on building back better. There's a growing recognition some of the changes brought about by the pandemic are likely to be permanent, or at least take longer than expected to recover to pre-2020 levels; more people working from home, increased office and retail space, reduced commuter footfall and less travel (business and personal), whilst online shopping continues to grow.
The need to adapt and evolve to a new way of living, working, shopping and playing has never been so critical, and the future of our high streets and repurposing town centres are at the heart of this.
The good news is the government has announced 72 areas in England that have received confirmed and provisional funding totalling £830m from the Future High Streets Fund. These awards are to help towns and cities recover from the pandemic and support community regeneration plans; transforming underused town centres into vibrant places to live, work, play and shop. The funding will also help to protect and create thousands of jobs in a range of industries and is a part of the government's levelling up agenda.
Projects are diverse and include improvements to transport infrastructure, new homes and the transformation of underused spaces. £107m has also been allocated to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Support to support the regeneration of heritage high streets.
A FUNDING BOOST FOR 72 HIGH STREETS IN ENGLAND
A total of £831m is being invested; equating to £15 per England resident (total population of 56m)
72 high streets in 31 counties are receiving funds
70% of the population in England reside in a county (39m) that's getting funding: averaging £21 per funded county resident
Successful bids have ranged between £1m and £25m.
We've taken a deeper dive into the government's announcement and presented the key data in succinct charts and maps using Tableau’s amazing visualisation capabilities.
FULL LIST OF SELECTED HIGH STREETS
The 72 areas with confirmed and provisional funds, award value and funding per county resident, can be seen in the chart below. Highlights include:
Sunderland (city centre transformation including a new state-of-the-art library, creative labs, a local history centre and railway station improvement), Swindon (town centre modernisation including a new public transport hub and improved cycle and pedestrian routes) and Birkenhead (186 new homes, road safety improvements and a permanent new space for the historic market) are the top recipients
Grimsby's award of £17m equates to the highest funding per county resident at £108 (with a population of 160,000 in NE Lincolnshire). The plans for Grimsby include a new cinema, market hall, shops and restaurants to breathe new life into a part of the town centre.
ANALYSIS BY COUNTY
These maps show the funds awarded by county, including total value and the award per county resident. Highlights include:
Greater Manchester is the top recipient at a metropolitan county level; £90m has been awarded to the towns and cities of Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Stretford and Wigan, which equates to an award of £32 per head. Plans for these towns include bringing vacant retail units back to use as community and leisure facilities, expanding high streets, enhancing landscaping and transport link improvements.
NE Lincolnshire is the county with the most funding per resident with Grimsby's award of £17m.
The funds are welcome news; providing much needed investment in our towns and high streets. It's great to see the future of our high streets being reimagined. These plans will help to create more vibrant town centres and community hubs that recognise the need for diverse amenities and activities that reflect changes in the way we want to live, work, play and shop!
Congratulations to all the towns in their bids. We wish you every success in building back better.
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