Funding made available to boost Blyth
Plans are being drawn up to revitalise Blyth after it was included in a £1bn Government initiative.
Blyth is one of 50 towns set to benefit from the Future High Streets Fund which could see up to £25million made available to bring proposals to fruition.
The town will now have the opportunity to develop plans to reinvent its town centre – and bid for funding which could be used to improve access into the town centre, repurpose empty retail units and invest in vital infrastructure.
It is all designed to increase footfall and engagement in living, working, setting up business and visiting Blyth town centre.
A submission to the fund was made earlier this year by Northumberland County Council and plans are being developed through the Blyth Town Forum regeneration partnership – which includes Blyth Town Council, Advance Northumberland, Northumberland Estates, Port of Blyth, Active Northumberland and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.
Together the Forum backed the new ‘Energising Blyth’ vision, which has been put forward to Future High Streets Fund to renew and reshape Blyth town centre.
The proposals will now progress to the second phase of the Future High Streets Fund and receive up to £150,000 to support the development of detailed project proposals that can be submitted for capital funding.
The proposals will explore options to remodel the town centre, improving connectivity to the Riverside and South Beach to attract higher footfall.
The project will also consider how low carbon technology can be used in the town centre; helping businesses reduce energy bills.
The county council and Advance Northumberland will start extensive work with stakeholders and engagement with users of the town centre this Autumn.
Coun Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for economic regeneration at Northumberland County Council, said: "I welcome the news that our exciting development plans for Blyth town centre have been shortlisted by the Government.
“This is a fantastic boost alongside our existing investment programme in the town, including proposals for Blyth Relief Road, new investment in offshore wind and energy industry on the Quayside and the reopening of the Newcastle to Northumberland line.
“We will be working closely with our partners through the Blyth Town Forum to progress our Energising Blyth investment strategy, aiming to bring about a fundamental change in the fortunes of the town centre.”
Joe Hughes, Clerk of Blyth Town Council, said “We are very pleased that funding will be available to help revitalise Blyth Town Centre.
“We look forward to working together with partners through the Blyth Town Forum to energise our town.”
Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP praised the bold and wide-ranging vision put forward for the centre of Blyth.
He said: “Town centres and high streets are at the heart of local communities. As consumer habits change we know that some are facing challenging times.
“Our plan to help the high street evolve and thrive involves investing £1billion in transformative infrastructure, town centre housing, workspaces and culture – as well as cutting business rates for most smaller shops and businesses.
“With support these areas will produce long term plans and receive up to £25m each to make them a reality.
“Blyth has a bold vision to energise its town centre creating a new, sustainable environment for residents, businesses and visitors, with investment in commercial and residential infrastructure and spaces.”