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January 15th, 2021

The second round of funding from the Future High Streets Fund was released to Local Authorities across the country between Christmas and New Year, which was great news welcomed by fifteen additional councils over the Christmas break.

These local authorities now have the resource to move forward with their aspired major regeneration schemes and transform the future of their cities and towns.

Mark Carr, Senior Public Sector Consultant in Regeneration here at Futures, discusses his thoughts on news of the recent funding allocations.

Being a Yorkshire man I was pleased to hear that Sheffield City Council was awarded over £15,000,000 for their High Streets, showcasing the time and effort dedicated from the team in their bid.

I was however disappointed to see Doncaster knocked in this recent article from the Doncaster Free Press which details their unsuccessful bid.

Mayor Jones of Doncaster comments:

“I am immensely disappointed that our Doncaster Council bid to the Future High Streets Fund has been turned down, this would have seen significant investment from both the public and private sector into the Waterdale area of town including St James’ Baths – an area which is in dire need of regeneration. Government reasoning for refusal is because of us not making the necessary return on investment. Once again governmental formula working against us in Doncaster and the north. The Government speaks of levelling up but fails to deliver. Come on Boris Johnson, work with us, Doncaster is ready to be levelled up.”

But opposition Tory councillor Nick Allen said:

“the council had not utilised the expertise to create a good enough bid and did not work with Government adequately to secure the funding.”

Mayor Jones blames the Government

“working against us in the North”.

Hmmm let’s have a quick recap – here are the councils to be awarded funding in October 2020:

  • Barrow-in-Furness
  • Blackpool
  • Darlington
  • Peterborough
  • Norwich
  • Torquay
  • Warrington

Unless my geography is off, aren’t 4 of those councils in the North? 4 out of 7 – not bad.

Let’s take a look at the councils who recently won their bids:

  • Tamworth – £21,652, 555
  • Sunderland – £25,000,000
  • Sutton – £11,346,704
  • Durham – £19,856,853
  • Northumberland – £11,121,059
  • Wyre Forest – £20,510,598
  • Southwark – £9,605,854
  • Swindon – £25,000,000
  • Stockport – £14,500,000
  • Cheshire West and Chester – £9,980,000
  • Sheffield – £15,817,001
  • Worcester – £17,939,000
  • Wirral – £24,581,011
  • Dudley – £9,985,689
  • Trafford – £17,605,674

For me, looking at the data, I can clearly see that the councils who have won the bids aren’t all in the South. In fact it appears the North has done very well and that funding allocations are relatively evenly spread.

There may be a North South divide in some contexts but The Future High Streets Fund clearly is not one of them. What do you think?

A year ago we supported Peterborough City Council providing a development consultant who helped shape their Town Investment Plan, receiving Government feedback that it was “an example to lead from” read more here.

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