A £4.725 million recovery package is being launched to help Bristol’s high streets and the city centre to recover from the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The cash boost will help to spearhead the regeneration and recovery of the city centre and 47 high streets throughout Bristol.
In total, £2.725 million has been ringfenced from the West of England Combined Authority’s (WECA’s) Love our High Streets Fund and £2 million has been earmarked from the Bristol Mayor’s Capital Recovery Fund.
Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor, said: “Through my Regional Recovery Plan, the Combined Authority is investing in this innovative town centre re-structuring programme to revitalise areas hit hard by Covid-19. I want to re-invigorate the neighbourhoods we all care about so that residents have everything they need within a 15-minute walking or cycling radius of their home, including decent, well-paid jobs, local shops and restaurants, leisure and cultural activities, and green infrastructure. The pandemic brought into focus how important this is, and with a Combined Authority in the West of England, we have the tools to make it happen.”
The funding will be finalised by both WECA and the city council’s Cabinet as part of a full business case this summer.
Nine high streets in Stockwood, Church Road, Shirehampton, Filwood Broadway, Filton Avenue, Stapleton Road, Brislington Hill, East Street and Two Mile Hill will be the focus of initial support, the money being used to improve their look and feel, reduce the number of vacant premises by providing financial support to open new businesses, including hospitality or creative spaces, and boost footfall.
Working closely with businesses, residents, community groups, the creative and events sector and other stakeholders, Bristol City Council will focus on making sure that grants and improvements match the challenges facing each high street.
The support package also contains a new £1 million high street grant fund, which includes funding for capital and revenue costs and will be available across all 47 of the city’s high streets to support new businesses.
The authority is aiming to bring 150 vacant properties back into permanent use, increasing the diversity of their use across the existing sites in a bid to drive footfall, with businesses being able to apply for funding later this year.
Councillor Nicola Beech, Bristol Council’s cabinet member for Strategic Design and City Planning, said: “Investment in our high streets and city centre is needed more than ever. During 2020 many of us have relied on our local shops but a number of our high streets have increasing vacancy rates and are in serious need of some tender, loving care. This investment will support diversifying our high streets, making more attractive spaces and reduce vacancy rates by providing grants to open new shops, hospitality and creative spaces.”
Businesses can find the latest information on the council’s website and will be able to apply for funding later this year once the funding package has been finalised, after which updates on the application and funding process will be made available.
Applications are open for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) and Discretionary support grant on the council’s website.