A £2 million cash injection to maintain the unique character of Midsomer Norton high street has taken another step forward.
A report before members of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet recommends formally accepting a slice of the £95m High Street Heritage Action Zones fund.
The joint member decision report says Historic England grant of £793,000 follows a successful competitive funding bid coordinated by the council working with local stakeholders submitted during 2019.
The programme of funding for the town centres is also supported by the West of England Combined Authority’s Love our High Streets funding, which formed the match funding for this latest successful funding bid. A Full Business Case will be submitted by B&NES in March 2021 to access £750,000 match funding that forms a key part of the High Street investment.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “I created and invested in the Love our High Streets programme to transform our town centres and give them a renewed vigour, ensuring our high streets remain the anchors of our local communities. It’s great news that Bath & North East Somerset Council has been awarded funding from Historic England to invest in Midsomer Norton.”
This Midsomer Norton investment would form part of a renewal funding package of total £2m, to be spent on developing a new market square next to the Town Hall, a new pedestrian passageway between the High St and the car park, renewed shopfront signage and other initiatives including planting schemes and pop-up shops.
The joint member decision for Midsomer Norton will be decided on or after 22 August.
A report on a similar bid for Keynsham High Street is expected to go before the group of councillors for a joint member decision at the end of August.
Councillor Dine Romero, council leader, said: “Midsomer Norton is an important town that enriches the heritage of Bath and North East Somerset and I welcome the report seeking formal acceptance of the funding. A lot of hard work has gone into this bid from all our partners and we will give it careful consideration.”
High Street Heritage Action Zones have been identified as a focus for grant fund from Historic England, the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment.
Bids to Historic England for Midsomer Norton and Keynsham were made in partnership with the town councils, civic, community and business groups and landlords.
Midsomer Norton Town Councils has committed match funding for the high street improvements totalling of £40,000 over four years, as well as a range of non-financial support.
Lynda Robertson, Mayor of Midsomer Norton Town Council, said: “Midsomer Norton’s High Street has incredible potential to be transformed into a vibrant place focused around entertainment, leisure and services. A number of our high street premises are vacant, and many town centre businesses are fragile in the face of significant changes to the way people shop. This funding boost is excellent news as it will revitalise Midsomer Norton as a ‘market town’ again with its own market square, making it a thriving place for the future.”