Improving applications to the Future High Street Fund

A successful one-day seminar was run by IPM for applicants to sharpen their thinking and improve their submissions


The Government announced a new Future High Street Fund of £675 million in the Budget. The Fund will support local areas, facing significant challenges, to prepare long-term strategies for high streets and town centres. Expressions of interest are to be submitted by local authorities who are expected to partner with others in the public and private sector to develop proposals that must form part of an overall vision the high street. The Fund is not expected to support proposals to expand traditional retail or short-term enhancements or promotions. The Fund may indicatively contribute up to £25 million per local area. You can access the application process here.

It is clear that there will be strong competition from places to access the Fund. Whilst the brief for the first-stage of application is fairly flexible, we would expect a strong proposal to: 

- Identify the challenge. Clearly demonstrate an evidence-based understanding of the current performance, offer and ownership of the town centre, detailing change and the implications of this over recent years

- Have a shared vision for the future of the centre that recognises the challenges faced but also links to other strategic plans.

- Identify the physical infrastructure changes that will contribute to the achievement of the vision and co-funding arrangements to finance these

- Demonstrate a successful track-record of wide-ranging engagement with partners, especially local organisations and groups, showing a capacity for collaborative working 

To explore these issues further, the Institute of Place Management, at Manchester Metropolitan University, hosted a one-day seminar on the 21st February designed to help Future High Street Fund applicants sharpen their thinking and craft their submissions. The seminar was free to attend thanks to the sponsorship of NewRiver, Springboard and Thinking Place.

The seminar heard from: 

Sir John Timpson CBE, Chairman of Timpson and Chair of the Government's Expert Advisory Panel on High Streets who outlined his aspirations for the Fund.

Laura Hurley, Head of Future High Street Fund, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, who explained how to apply to the Fund.

Simon Quin, Co-Chair, the Institute of Place Management who outlined trends concerning the multifunctional high street and explained how to plan for future uses.

John Till, Director and Founder, Thinking Place, who explained how to create a compelling vision.

Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director, Springboard, who explored how to use data to support an application and really evidence the challenge.

Paul Wright, Director, NewRiver, who outlined private sector sources of finance for town centres

Nick Cumberland, Senior Specialist (Housing), Homes England, who explained how Homes England can co-fund residential development.

Catherine Dewar, Regional Director North West, Historic England, who explained about additional funding to support Heritage High Streets.

Martin Parretti, Principal Consultant (Movement and Place team), Systra Ltd, who outlined future transport trends and impact on the high street.

Martin King, Director, Urban Green, who also represented the Landscape Institute, explored the links between public space and place making.

Steve Millington, Director of the Institute of Place Management and Metropolis Policy Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University who explained why collaboration is important and the imporatnce of place leadership, knowledge and communication in achieving place change.

Seb Slater, Executive Director, Shrewsbury BID, Hayley Owen - Growth Programme and Strategy Manager, Shropshire Council and Helen Ball - Town Clerk, Shrewsbury Town Council explained how place partnership works in practice in Shrewsbury, giving the example of the Big Town Plan.

All the presentations from the day are available to download here

The seminar was recognised as a valuable contribution to an individual's continuing professional development.

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