AMBITIOUS plans to regenerate Stalybridge as part of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s Town Centre Challenge have been dealt a blow.
Tameside Council has failed to secure money from the Government’s £675million Future High Streets Fund. They made two bids for Stalybridge and Hyde.
After the Government announced which 51 boroughs and towns from 300 applicants are progressing to the next stage – they did not include Hyde or Stalybridge – there was huge disappointment in the town.
Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, said: “I am hugely disappointed that the Government has not backed our bids which were certainly of a high quality.
“The level of interest nationally shows the scale of the fund the Government has announced in nowhere near big enough.
“I worry they don’t understand the scale of the problem.
“High streets are crucial but they have to change in response to an unprecedented shift towards online retailing.
“That is going to require Government money to adapt buildings, provide new public space and increase the amount of leisure and residential facilities in the centre of towns.”
A statement from the local authority read: “Tameside Council is disappointed to not have been one of the 50 areas across the country invited to progress to business case development stage for the national Future High Street Fund.
“We have a strong track record of bringing investment to our town centres with Stalybridge currently designated as part of the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Town Centre Challenge.
“We recognise this was a highly competitive process with more than 300 local authorities making at least one bid with a mixture of cities and towns having been selected by Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.
“Tameside entered strong bids for both Stalybridge and Hyde town centres. We will continue to build on this work to create and develop our town centres plans. We are actively looking at other opportunities to continue to increase investment in our town centres.”
Fifty-one local areas have been picked to go through to the next round of the Future High Streets Fund.
The successful areas will now each receive up to £150,000 of funding to work on detailed proposals to regenerate and transform their town centres. Some of them will eventually receive multi-million pound funding to complete their projects.
The £675m fund was announced last December to enable councils to revitalise ailing high streets
and make them “fit for the future”.
Prime Minister Theresa May admitted that new technology and changes in the way we shop means that high streets face “growing challenges”.
“The funding will breathe new life into town centres and – together with measures such as small business rate cuts and opening up empty shops – will transform our high streets for the future,” she added.
There were more than 300 bids to the fund, which was open to all 326 councils with planning powers – so at least 249 councils (83 per cent) were rejected.
And for the 51 who have made it through, there is no guarantee of further investment funding to shortlisted places if the proposals put forward are “not sufficiently developed or fail to demonstrate adequate value for money or deliverability”.