“We all love our local high streets but many of these local shopping centres are facing stiff competition both from the internet but also larger retail precincts like the Mall. We want to see more targeted support into these vital neighbourhood amenities and this will require a combination of both local and national effort.”
I wrote these words a couple of weeks ago in my paper based newsletter and despite the fact that they have only just started being delivered it would appear that both the Chancellor and Regional Mayor have been spying on me since both recently announced measures to help the High Street.
First the Treasury is providing a lifeline towards small businesses struggling on the high street by cutting their business rates by one third and setting up a (£675m) “Future High Streets Fund”.
Then the Regional Mayor announced that up to £10m is set to be invested in boosting our region’s high streets thanks to the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). This will initially fund three pilot projects, one in Bath and North East Somerset, one in Bristol and one in South Gloucestershire. The proposal will be put forward for formal approval at the WECA committee on 30 November. The location of the projects is yet to be agreed, but they will look at the potential for community-led high street regeneration. I will certainly be pushing for one in North Bristol.
All in all good news for the high street.