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Trowbridge Town Council Leader’s Articles: “What is the Future High Street Fund and how can it help Trowbridge"

October 27, 2020 8:07 PM
By Stewart Palmen in Trowbridge Nub News

Stewart Palmen Leader of Trowbridge Town Council

IN the very near future, we, in Trowbridge, will hear if we are gaining any funding from our bid to the Government's Future High Street Fund. So I thought it would be useful to look at what this fund is exactly and what it could do for Trowbridge. Again in a simple question and answer format.

What is The Future High Street Fund"

The fund is £1 billion that the Government has allocated to help regenerate the high streets of towns across the UK. The local County Council have had to apply for the funding, so, in our case, it was Wiltshire Council who have applied and not the Town Council although we have supported the bid.

How many places will it help?

Well, one hundred towns/cities made it through the first stage of the bid and have all submitted final bids

Will all the bids get the same amount of money?

Wicker Hill and all of Fore Street to be pedestrianised

The funding will be allocated depending on the strength of the bid so some will get more than others and some could get nothing.

How much did we go for?

The average, assuming all bids were equally valid, would be £10 million. But we believe the case for Trowbridge is very strong and to achieve all we want to achieve, we have asked for £23.85 million.

Are there any other places in Wiltshire applying?

Yes. Wiltshire Council initially put forward bids for Chippenham, Salisbury and Trowbridge. Chippenham did not make it past the first stage but Salisbury and Trowbridge are still in the running.

Town Hall and The Old Market Building to be reworked

What type of things will the money go towards?

There are four "theme" areas we are trying to address with the funding. These are:
1) Better movement and legibility at the town centre gateways
2) A unique and culture-and-leisure-led offer
3) A resilient and diverse high street
4) Unlocking good growth

Sorry, that sounds like waffle. What does it mean?

Ok, let's unpack each one a little

1) Better movement and legibility at the town centre gateways

Potential Castle Place redevelopment

This involves further pedestrianisation of Fore Street and Wicker Hill and improvement of the road system together with more sensible signposting for both pedestrians and vehicles (wayfinding). Improvement of the River Biss area giving us a lovely riverside walk from the train station to St Stephen's Place making it a real asset to the town.

2) A unique and culture-and-leisure-led offer

Town centres now, more than ever, need to provide more than just retail outlets and become more 'experiential'. So we are planning to invest in the refurbishment of Trowbridge Town Hall (opening up the Ballroom etc.) and encouraging it's links with The Civic. Also reactivating nearby vacant properties to create Artisan Market type space in the old Market Hall (formerly a Weatherspoons pub).

3) A resilient and diverse high street

We need to achieve a more compact and vibrant high street by relocating existing retail units in Castle Place to vacant shops along the high street. We will never again need the level of retail we used to have because so much of our shopping is done online or via large supermarkets. We will also encourage conversion of units to facilitate a wider range of shops moving into the area and convert empty upper floors to residential through a programme of grants. We will also create some guidance for uses that are needed or wanted in the high street to steer how the town needs to develop to ensure sustainability.

Three Town councillors promoting the Future High Street Fund Bid back in January this year

4) Unlocking good growth

A comprehensive redevelopment of Castle Place to include a large leisure facility, residential, co-working spaces and a small retail element. Potential location for the Chamber of Commerce also being considered. We have to face it as it is. Castle Place is unlikely ever to be full of retail outlets again. It is better to relocate some of those businesses to the vacant units in the Fore Street, etc, and use that space by the Park used as outlined above. I also think this helps unlock for Wiltshire Council funding for a Trowbridge Leisure Centre which we have been promised for so long.

So that is a very brief overview.

This article was published in Trowbridge Nub News https://trowbridge.nub.news/n/trowbridge-town-council-leaders-articles-what-is-the-future-high-street-fund-and-how-can-it-help-trowbridge34