Oldham Town Centre to bid for future high streets fund
Reporter: Jess Reeves
Date published: 21 March 2019
The new cashpot was announced by the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in late-December 2018.
Nationally £675 million is up for grabs and its intention is to support and fund local areas’ plans to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future.
Oldham Council is today submitting its expression of interest before the March 22 deadline as part of its ambitious wider plans to transform Oldham town centre.
Sean Fielding, Oldham Council Leader, said: “We’re bidding for money from the Future High Streets Fund to help us to improve, adapt and modernise Oldham town centre.”
“Times, habits and aspirations are changing - so are our High Streets and, crucially, what will draw people in to use areas like this.
“So many people now do most of their shopping or bill paying and tasks online, so the Oldham town centre of the future will have to be one that draws people in through a more diverse offer of employment, homes, culture, leisure and heritage attractions.
“There’s always going to be retail here, of course, but people now want an experience – something to visit, see or do that they can’t just pick up and enjoy with a click or a swipe on a screen. They want to be visiting a modern and vibrant community hub.
“Our task is to get Oldham town centre’s fair share from this funding opportunity and focusing our efforts on that area means we can submit the strongest possible bid with the best chance of success.
“Competition will be fierce because retail’s decline is affecting every High Street but if we’re successful we can use this money for important steps like addressing empty shop units, making the environment more attractive and improving the infrastructure.
“Any money from this would be in addition to other initiatives we’ve recently announced. This bid is just the latest move in our work to make Oldham more vibrant and thriving round the clock. It will boost our local economy in many different ways and give people a place that is relevant to their needs once again.”
Today’s move follows other recent initiatives and announcements designed to improve the area and its offer to residents, businesses and visitors.
These include Accessible Oldham, recently consulted upon, which will see £6 million from Greater Manchester Devolution funding used to improve travel and accessibility in and around the area including improvements like new cycle lanes, public spaces and changes to the road network.
The bid also complements the new Night Time Economy Task Force which is looking with partners at how we tackle crime and safety, and sustain a wider choice of business, events and activities.
A key strategic aim is to deliver new homes in Oldham town centre, increasing the local population and people working or using the area, boosting footfall and adding to a wider choice of homes. Some of those residential plans were recently unveiled as part of the new plan for the Oldham Mumps area, including a Lidl and a national hotel operator.
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