Kirkham could see itself receiving funding for the regeneration of the town centre due to two successful bids under the Government’s Future High Street Fund.
The fund was launched for the first time in October 2018, when Fylde Council agreed to apply for financial assistance to help with the regeneration of the high street. The fund, split into two elements, aims to revitalise high streets by providing grant aid for development that the market might not see as viable. The second element relates to enhancing the heritage quality that underlines the historic role of towns, restoring their former heritage qualities.
Fylde Council’s Regeneration Officers have been working closely with the local business groups and Town Council to formulate a proposal. An initial expression of interest was submitted to the Government for assistance through both the principal fund and the Heritage fund. We have recently been informed that the initial bids were successful and have been asked to formulate a detailed business case together with some plans for the restoration of key buildings.
The principal objective will be to look at bringing unused buildings and sites back into use, maybe even repurposing them with new alternative uses. Other aspects of the bids include the restoration of traditional shopfronts and building refurbishment, as well as looking to enhance the customer experience through traffic management and public space enhancements.
The next steps in the process will be to work with property owners who are vital to the success of drawing together the detailed bids. In addition, the community will also be involved with the opportunity to actively participate in the bringing together of a long-term plan for the town centre. One idea will be to have a ‘community room’ located on the high street that will offer the public the opportunity to participate, host events and hold exhibitions.
Paul Drinnan, Fylde Council’s Regeneration Manager said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to draw businesses and people back to Kirkham, as well as restore the historical pride in the Town Centre the residents have had for so long. We are very much looking forward to being involved with this project and seeing the Kirkham high street flourish once again.”
Kirkham has a long history and important heritage but in common with other market towns has seen a reduction in business confidence and investment. These government funds could well be a major boost to revitalising the town centre and building confidence, making the town a place to visit through choice.
The Council is in the process of drawing together a detailed funding bid, first to Historic England for the heritage aspects of the scheme by the end of 2019 and the principal fund by June 2020. The combined funding pot should amount to several millions if successful.