West Mids Centres Targeted in Pilot Scheme
Five town centres - Bilston in Wolverhampton, St Thomas Quarter in Dudley, Bordesley Green in Birmingham, St Matthews Quarter in Walsall and West Bromwich (East) in Sandwell – are targeted in new pilot initiative aiming to revitalise them.
The ‘Regional Town Centre Task Force’ met for the first time this week to try to find ways to address the issue of struggling high streets and town centres. It was agreed that a cross-party approach is needed with politicians, local councils, community groups, academia and the private sector all working together.
The task force, set up by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Housing and Land Board, has an initial investment of £20 million made available by the WMCA to deliver specific local town centre regeneration projects, though the West Midlands councils have also submitted bids to the Government’s nationwide £675m Future High Streets Fund for additional revenue.
Andy Street stated that, ‘…One idea we will be pursuing is to turn town centres into ‘free trade zones’, which would give enhanced powers to local authorities and more support for shops and local businesses…’
Additional town centres will be eligible for support later in the year, building on the experience from the initiatives in the pilot town centres.