Oswestry and Shrewsbury miss out on slice of £675 million high streets fund
Shrewsbury and Oswestry have failed to secure a slice of the government’s £675 million fund to revitalise the nation’s high streets.
Shropshire Council had hoped to scoop up to £50 million to spend on Shrewsbury and Oswestry town centres. But now it has been forced to go back to the drawing board after its application failed to make the shortlist of 50 proposals.
Steve Charmley, cabinet member for assets, economic growth and regeneration said while the news was disappointing, it showed the towns already have strong high streets.
“Earlier this year we submitted what we considered to be very strong bids on behalf of Shrewsbury and Oswestry for round one of the Future High Street Fund,” he said.
“Unfortunately neither Shrewsbury nor Oswestry has been shortlisted in the 50 areas that have been taken forward to business case stage.
“Though this is disappointing, it’s not surprising given that the fund was hugely over-subscribed, and our feeling is that Shrewsbury and Oswestry were considered to already have stronger high streets than those towns that have gone forward, and that we are making good progress at collaborating with partners to tackle the continuing challenges facing our town centres.”
He said in Shrewsbury, the council was already working closely with Shrewsbury BID and the town council on the Big Town Plan project.
A new group has also been formed in Oswestry, in partnership with the town council and BID, to help deliver activities and projects that will benefit the town for its residents and businesses.
The authority had hoped to attract up to £25 million for each town from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Councillor Charmley added: “But Shropshire Council is looking at all of our town centres along with town and parish councils and other local partners, including business.
“We recognise that in the future people will visit their town centre for reasons other than retail. Leisure and culture will be more important.
“This is why we will continue to invest and encourage others to invest to ensure that Shropshire’s towns remain vibrant and important to life in our communities and our county.
“However, we are in touch with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to find out more about our Future High Street Fund bid, and we plan to apply again when applications for round two of the fund opens.”