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The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Board this morning (Friday, July 12) approved almost £2m in funding to support the region’s high streets.

The Humber High Street Challenge Fund will see the Humber LEP allocate £1.95m to projects to boost the region’s high streets – funded by the Government’s Local Growth Fund as part of their commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

The Humber High Street Challenge Fund will encourage private sector landlords and property owners to undertake building and conversion projects that will improve high streets, diversifying the traditional high street offer and bringing unused floor space back into use.

These projects will take place in areas with the most need in all four of the Humber local authority areas, comprising of:

–       Hull: Whitefriargate in the Old Town

–       East Riding of Yorkshire: Clock Tower area of Goole

–       North Lincolnshire Council: Scunthorpe town centre

–       North East Lincolnshire: Kasbah area of Grimsby.

The project will aim to deliver early improvement works in advance of larger scale investments, including the Government’s Future High Streets Fund. It was recently announced that Hull City Council, who will lead the delivery of this scheme, has been successful in the first stage of bidding for capital investment from the Future High Streets Fund.

The Humber LEP recognises through its proposed Humber Industrial Strategy the importance of supporting places, including high streets, to diversify and adapt for the future. This will enable every part of the Humber to play to its strengths, whilst improving connectivity between places to ensure that everyone has the chance to benefit from the Humber’s increased earning power.

The Humber High Street Challenge fund is just one way the LEP plans continue to build on improved perceptions of the Humber as a place to live, work, learn and invest.

In practical terms, the Fund will support target areas in locations that are already set for regeneration, through measures such as scaling back retail space where appropriate, diversification of the traditional retail-dominated high street, opportunities to convert some retail units to residential use, tailoring development/change of use to the unique nature of each urban space and encouraging innovative proposals to bring vacant spaces back to use.

If funding is approved, it is set to be match-funded by £1.86m in public funding and £2.41m from the private sector – bringing the total available for the region’s high streets to £6,221,010.

The programme could see up to 278 new jobs created, with 6,574 sqm of commercial floorspace brought back into use.

Chair of the Humber LEP, Lord Haskins, said:

“The Humber High Street Challenge Fund has the potential to make a real difference to the region’s high streets.

“Measures such as diversification and repurposing of traditional retail space could breathe new life into our town and city centres, helping the Humber become a more attractive place to live and work.

“I am delighted that the Humber’s Local Growth Fund allocation, which we have secured from Government, could support regeneration of the region’s high streets and have a positive impact for our residents and businesses alike.”

Councillor Daren Hale, portfolio holder for regeneration and economic investment in Hull, said:

“Whitefriargate is an important part of the city centre and the council has been proactively looking at ways to regenerate the area.

“This funding allows us to offer match funding to investors, as well as improving the aesthetics and layout of the street. We saw with the Old Town Grant Scheme how match funding can encourage investment and revitalise an area. Our aim is to see the same success on Whitefriargate.”

Cllr John Fenty, Cabinet member for regeneration at North East Lincolnshire Council, said:

“I’m delighted that we’ve been allocated this funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership. Initially, we’ll be concentrating on an area of Grimsby’s port where we’ve already established a strong partnership to help support external repair work to buildings.

“This funding will enhance that scheme meaning more buildings can be brought back into use, something that will be great for the local community, help improve the look of the Kasbah area and also help people to feel proud of their fishing heritage.”

Cllr Rob Waltham MBE, Leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said:

“This is a welcome investment from the Government through the Humber LEP to continue our transformation of Scunthorpe High Street.

“Our habits have changed and retail is no longer king of the High Street. Retail is just a part of a rich community centre that includes housing, workspace, cultural and leisure facilities, and education.

“With this investment, we’ll be identifying key vacant sites and bringing them back in to use, acting as a catalyst to further reform and diversify of our town centre.”

Councillor Richard Burton, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said:

“Securing this funding from the Humber LEP is yet more great news for Goole.

“The funding will support the council in improving the town centre by reducing the vacancy rates of commercial properties in the clock tower area and encourage private sector investment.

“It is exciting times for the town with a number of large scale investments and projects coming to the area, which will boost the local economy and help create new employment opportunities for local people.”