Government launches High Street regeneration strategy

The government has launched its long-term plan to boost the High Street.

The High Street strategy is part of the prime minister’s plan to deliver visible changes to local communities across England by transforming derelict buildings and “cleaning up streets.”

Councils in England will be given the power to take over derelict buildings through compulsory purchase orders so they can be converted into new homes if property owners stall on regeneration plans.

Councils will also be encouraged to use existing powers to convert empty offices into housing, and empty shops will be transformed into entertainment venues new businesses without the need for planning permission.

The government has also announced 15 town deals worth £335 million. The money will be spent on community regeneration projects including repurposing empty shops on High Streets, creating new public spaces, transforming a riverfront area into a community hub with entertainment and leisure venues, and creating a new digital enterprise and learning centre.

Town Deals have now been offered to all 101 places that were invited to develop proposals.

“Strong, vibrant high streets are the beating heart of proud, local economies so as we emerge from this pandemic I’m delighted it has been recognised,” said Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland Foods. “For over 50 years, and now with over 1000 stores, we have always stood proudly on high streets across the whole UK, and now is the perfect time to remove some of the outdated planning practices that have stood in the way of local regeneration and growth.”

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “As we build back better from the pandemic, we are transforming our high streets across the UK into the kind of vibrant places we will want to visit, work and call home for generations to come. This strategy sets out a vision for entrepreneurship to thrive, where local shops and businesses are supported with permanent al fresco dining, derelict eyesores transformed into quality homes and new hubs for business and entertainment encouraged.”

In March the government also pledged a £56 million ‘Welcome Back Fund’ to prepare High Streets and seaside resorts for the summer.

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