Government reveals 14 pilot areas for high streets regeneration taskforce

The government has unveiled the first 14 places that will pilot its programme to rejuvenate failing high streets and town centres.

Coventry city centre (pic: Gwydion M. Williams, Flickr)
Coventry city centre (pic: Gwydion M. Williams, Flickr)

Robert Jenrick, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, announced on Monday this week 14 pilot areas for its High Streets Taskforce initiative.

At the time of its launch last spring, ministers said the task force’s remit "will include the provision of planning experts" to advise on matters including "policy and design".

The 14 areas make up the bulk of the 20 places which will be used to testbed the programme to revive towns and high streets across England.

The first fourteen places that will take part in the pilot are:

Salford - Swinton Town centre
Croydon - Thornton Heath
Staffordshire Moorlands - Cheadle
Rushmoor - Aldershot Town Centre
Birmingham - Stirchley
Hyndburn – Accrington Town Centre
South Lakeland - Kendal
Preston - Friargate
Coventry - Coventry City Centre
Hartlepool - Hartlepool Town Centre
Cheshire West and Chester - Ellesmere Port Town Centre
Sandwell - West Bromwich Town Centre
Knowsley - Huyton Town Centre
Manchester - Withington District Centre

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) statement said that the 20 pilot areas will receive "tailored expert support" from the High Streets Task Force, announced last year, which will comprise industry experts, including from the Royal Town Planning Institute.

The task force, which was set up in response to the recommendations of an expert panel on the high street chaired by shoe repair chain boss Sir John Timpson, is being run by the Institute for Place Management on the government’s behalf and is currently recruiting a chair.

A MHCLG spokesman said: "This initiative is designed to provide the pilot areas with tailored advice and guidance from industry leaders and experts through the High Streets Task Force."

The government also announced this week that it is providing additional funding for 101 high streets, named last summer to receive support through the Future High Streets Fund, "in planning for how to best use the £25 million funding available to them."

Meanwhile, the government is seeking views on whether an online register of commercial properties would make it easier to bring empty shops back into use. An online survey on this can be found here.

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