The Future High Street Fund is led by the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The national fund is £1billion and will be used to renew and reshape town centres and high streets through transformational schemes to improve experience, drive growth and ensure future sustainability.
After successfully submitting an expression of interest in Spring 2019, Newton Abbot was shortlisted by the MHCLG along with 100 other towns. We were informed in Autumn 2019 that we had been shortlisted for Round 2. Each of the 50 Round 2 applicants has to submit a proposal by 31 July 2020.
During June we engaged with local people over our outline proposals. These included the redevelopment of Market Hall, Alexandra Cinema and Market Square; pedestrian improvements and greening along Queen Street; and improved cycling links to the town centre and more car parking at Cricketfield.
We wanted people’s views on these ideas and how they would create a vibrant Markets Quarter, more sustainable travel links and sufficient parking capacity in the town centre. Our aim is to improve the town centre environment, make it a shopping destination, encourage more regular trips as well as longer stays and make the area a hub for local communities.
Feedback from engagement
Overall we received 1,102 responses to three feedback questionnaires as well as comment via social media, letters and a petition.
Feedback has been divided into the three elements of the project:
- The Markets Quarter & Alexandra Cinema
- Queen Street pedestrian improvements including Cricketfield parking
- Cycling links and cycle parking
Having considered the feedback and other discussions with stakeholders, we have updated the proposals. These meet the Fund’s criteria, which includes the need for a business case, design plans and a strong cost benefit ratio.
Following the Government's announcement just after Christmas 2020 that we had been allocated 69% of our original bid, we have submitted a scaled down version of our proposals.
Although The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said our bid represented a strong business case that demonstrated value for money, there were so many bids for funding from across the country that we have been offered £9.2 million.
To receive this funding, our scaled down proposals must continue to meet the Fund’s transformational criteria and be deliverable both on time and within the allocated budget.
The scaled down proposals we have submitted do not include plans for additional car parking at Cricketfield. Our plans - strengthening the Market and Cultural Quarters and delivering upgrades to Queen Street and the National Cycle Network Route - will still transform the town centre into a more appealing place to visit, boosting footfall and local spending. It will also improve pedestrian and cycling access while keeping open the option of funding the Cricketfield plans in another way at a later date.
We expect to receive confirmation of funding for our resubmitted bid by the end of March.
Once we have secured the funding, we will work with all stakeholders at the detailed planning and implementation stages to try and satisfy the range of interest identified in last year’s engagement which demonstrated overall support for the plans.