A grant opportunity has been created by the council as part of our on-going commitment to work with local people to tackle the challenges facing the three primary town centres in Fylde. The Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) Vacant Premises Scheme has been established to provide support to start-up costs for small local businesses who take on vacant premises between 1 March 2021 and 31 March 2022 (subject to availability of grant funding).
The council has made a commitment to support the recovery of the local economy after the challenges faced from the COVID pandemic, an important element of the local economy is the occupation of vacant premises in the town centre. Even before the pandemic the town centre was facing severe challenges with the increase of online shopping creating the need for places to reinvent themselves. As part of this commitment the council is offering new start-up businesses locating in vacant premises in the town centres, that offer in person service, the opportunity to receive a grant towards the cost of fitting out the premises.
This grant scheme is intended to stimulate new and additional business in the town centres of St Annes, Lytham and Kirkham that will encourage footfall to the area. The economic climate has been challenging for all business during the COVID pandemic with in-person businesses having had additional costs to keep customers safe, while trading has been restricted due to COVID measures. The ARG Vacant Premises grant will support new businesses with a contribution towards the initial investment for shop fitting and set-ups costs.
Who should apply for the ARG Vacant Premises Grant?
Businesses which meet all the following criteria can apply for a grant:
- Moving or expanding into a vacant / empty high street unit in the town centre
- Offering an in-person service that would generate footfall to the town centre
- Small independent sole trader / operator or locally based chain
- Premises must be within the town centre locations as marked in Appendix 1
- Premises must include ground floor shop frontage
- Businesses that are part of a large regional or national chain / franchise in the food and drink, hospitality, or beauty / hair sectors
- Existing businesses relocating from one town centre location in Fylde to a different town centre (unless expanding)
- Businesses that are in administration, insolvent or where a striking-off notice has been made
- Business that might duplicate or displace already established businesses
- Businesses that do not have fixed premises in the town centre
Assessment & Award
Applicants can claim for up to 50% of the setup, shop fitting, refit, or branding cost of the business to a maximum of £10,000.
The amount awarded to eligible applicants will be based on an assessment of the project proposal on a case by case basis considering the following criteria:
- The refit cost of moving into the premises
- Initial set-up costs prior to the opening of the business
- Whether the business operates in a priority sector for the local economy which includes retail, hospitality, leisure, and tourism
- Whether the business would fill a gap that exists in the town centre offer to generate footfall throughout the day – not just retail
- The impact on the ability to trade because of social distancing and lockdown measures, e.g. reduced opening hours, mandated closures, reduction of customers able to access the premises, or travel guidance
- Additional costs because of operating in a COVID-secure manner, e.g. adaptions to premises such as one-way systems or plastic screens, procurement of PPE and hygiene provisions, or employment of additional staff to manage COVID-secure measures
- The financial viability of the business in terms of cash flow and reserves
- Only one grant per eligible business premise will be paid
- Grants will only be paid to the business owner and to the business bank account
- Businesses will receive a single grant payment on production of certified receipts
- Applicants must demonstrate a clear viability gap through their application form, business plan and cash flow forecast
- The application will need to outline the need and demand for the business and how it will increase footfall to the town centre
- The business must offer / provide a high street frontage
- Businesses already well represented in the town centre will need to demonstrate added value or difference to the existing town centre offer
- The grant cannot be used to pay for rent, business rates or staff costs
- The grant can be spent on set up costs including building refurbishment, fixtures and fittings, utility connection costs and business marketing/branding
- The application must be submitted by December 31st, 2021 to allow time to process the scheme by March 31st, 2022.
- Any award will be made on approval of the application with payment on invoice of works / services completed.
- Grant income received by a business is taxable, therefore the ARG Vacant Premises Grant will need to be included as income in the tax return of the business
- Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax
Do the rules about subsidies apply?
The Brexit transition period has ended and new rules on subsidy control now apply. The ARG Vacant Premises Grant is a subsidy. If a receiving a grant may mean that your business (or any group of which it forms part) has had £1,950,000 or more in subsidies in the last three years, we will need to ask you for more information and you are invited to contact us directly regarding your business. You can read more on the rules about subsidies here.
How to apply?
Potential applicants will be required to submit an expression of interest via the below application link that will be allocated to a case officer who will act as the lead liaison for the grant application making all necessary checks with licensing, planning and other regulatory functions to assess the viability of the proposal and work closely with the applicant to make an award wherever possible.
An application should only be made if a business meets the eligibility criteria and is not exempt having read the information above. Please DO NOT apply if the business does not meet the required criteria and only when the project is approved and the premises secured – an award cannot be made.
The deadline to apply for the ARG Vacant Premises Grant is 31 December 2021. However, please note this is subject to funds being available.