New Fund To Prevent ‘Ghost Towns’

I don’t yet know how we get these funds, more news later hopefully.

New Fund To Prevent “Ghost Towns”?

Up to £3 million government funding will be made available to stop the economic downturn from creating a series of ghost towns across England.

Grants of £1,000 are expected to be offeed to temporarily turn empty shops into social enterprises, local arts displays or community learning centres.

Ministers have published Looking After Our Town Centres, a strategy outlining a number of creative ways to reduce the negative impact that vacant shops can have on both business and community confidence.

It reveals plans to “establish a fund to provide small-scale grants to help with cleaning and decorating vacant premises, basic refit for temporary uses, publicity posters, and other activities that can help town centres attract and retain visitors”.

Ministers are currently in the process of deciding how such a fund will be set up and managed.

The strategy also includes a raft of special planning changes designed to make it easier for empty shops to get turned into cultural or community hubs.

Planning application waivers will be introduced to enable councils to allow changes of use which go against local planning guidelines, whilst flexible interim-use leases and temporary leasing of shops to councils will enable landlords to make their empty properties available for alternative use until the recession ends.

Announcing the strategy, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said it was vital that town centres remained “vibrant” despite the economic downturn.

She added:
“Empty shops can be eyesores or crime magnets. Our ideas for reviving town centres will give communities the know-how to temporarily transform vacant premises into something innovative for the community – a social enterprise, a showroom for local artists or an information centre – and stop the high street being boarded up.”

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham claimed that culture and creativity were “part of the answer to tough economic times”.

He said:
“Nobody wants to see town centres fade and decay. By transforming otherwise empty town centre premises into hubs for culture and creativity, we can regenerate both the physical space itself and the hope and ambition of all those that have a stake in them.”

Source: Department for Communities and Local Government, 14/04/2009