Struggling Midland town centres can bid for a share of £1 million to reinvigorate their high streets as the Department for Communities and Local Government launches a competition to fund 12 ‘Portas Pilots.’
The support comes on the back of the Mary Portas High Streets Review, published in December 2011, and aims to support local businesses and councils to implement its findings.
Towns, cities and suburban areas are invited to submit proposals that best serve the recommendations of the review.
Local Government Minister Grant Shapps has offered the cash incentive to those that come up with the best ‘high street blueprints’.
The 12 successful bidders will need to demonstrate the energy, enthusiasm and vision to make a difference to their town centres and make them the hubs of their communities, the Government said.
The pilots areas will create Town Teams, made up of key players in the local community including the council, landlords, shopkeepers and the local MP.
Mr Shapps said: “Our high streets have faced stiff competition from internet shopping, and out-of-town shopping centres – leaving them underused, unloved and under-valued.
“The internet is not going to go away, and so for our high streets to survive they need to offer something new and exciting.
“Launching this competition now is a signal of our understanding that there’s no time to waste in driving forward these important measures.”
Mr Shapps will give the full Government response to the Portas Review by the Spring.
Mary Portas said: “I am thrilled that now there is an opportunity to turn my recommendations into reality by giving communities across the country the opportunity to come forward with their vision for breathing new life into their locality.
“I hope my review has inspired people with another vision of tomorrow where our high streets are re-imagined as destinations for socializing, culture, well being, learning as well as shopping.
“I want the first 12 Town Teams to challenge the old ways of working, experiment, take risks and reaffirm their place at the heart of a community. A place we all want to be and can be proud of.”
The prospectus and application form are available from www.communities.gov.uk/publications/regeneration/portaspilotsprospectus/.