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Marlborough High Street

Council to consider new programme to invest in Wiltshire’s high streets

A new initiative that would see £1 million pumped into each of Wiltshire’s town centres, plus the city of Salisbury and three large villages, will be considered by Wiltshire Council next week.

The Wiltshire Towns Programme would see £1 million each year until 2025 invested into a range of different projects to attract customers and investment to Wiltshire’s high streets, to help support town centres as they continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic and rise to the challenge of online shopping.

The annual £1 million funding was originally allocated from the financial year 2021-22, with the first funding rolled into this year due to an underspend, as officers supported the Covid business grants programme.

The initial extra funding will be invested into projects that will kickstart the programme, including a Generating Activity Grant, which is a fund to work with town councils to drive footfall back to high streets with events and activities; a What’s on in Wiltshire app, which will enable people to find out about events on their smartphones; and heritage apps, like the one already live in Salisbury, to help visitors find out more about towns.

As well as these projects, each town included in the programme will receive annual funding to improve their high streets and attract visitors, so long as they produce an action plan that fulfils certain criteria and is measurable to show the success and impact of the plan.

These action plans must be created by the town or parish council, in partnership with local businesses and business groups, and should be tailored to meet the specific needs of the town.

The initiative will be discussed by Wiltshire Council’s cabinet next Tuesday, June 21.

Cllr Richard Clewer, leader of Wiltshire Council and cabinet member for economic development, said: “We know that there are many challenges facing our high streets and town centres, and that’s why we’re looking to launch this investment to help revitalise our city, towns and three large villages – Pewsey, Tisbury, and Downton.

“We also recognise that each of our towns has something different to offer residents and visitors, and that they are also facing different circumstances and challenges, so we have tailored this funding to enable us to work with our town councils and recognise the unique journey each town centre is on.

“Each town and city will have a separate pot of funding based on its number of high street businesses, and this will be allocated once town and parish councils have produced action plans – which is exactly the same way central government allocates funding to local authorities.

“We want to do all we can to support Wiltshire businesses and have thriving high streets, and working with town and parish councils, this funding will help to do that.”

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