Government awards grant to boost town centres

Erdington artspace exhibitionThe government is making £3 million available to help areas hardest hit by the recession find creative ways to reduce the negative impact empty shops are having on the high street.

Coventry, Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton and Walsall councils are each being given a grant of £52, 632.

The councils will use the grants as they see fit to boost town centres and transform empty shops into a variety of places including learning centres, meeting places or a showroom for artists.

This grant will be especially useful for the region and town centres such as Dudley, which has a 12% vacancy rate.

According to John Denham, the Communities Secretary, this grant will help high streets in areas of high deprivation.

The government has also released a guide, Looking after our town centres, providing town centre managers and local partners with a range of tips to improve town centres.

West Midlands Regional Minister Ian Austin welcomed the grant:

Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Stoke-on-Trent, Walsall and Wolverhampton all have town centres that have been hit hard by the recession and high instances of shop vacancies. But it doesn’t take much to help turn on the lights and put up some displays, and the effect of un-boarding a shop front can be dramatic. Transforming vacant shop premises in these centres can help restore confidence and regenerate local communities. Instead of boarded-up shop fronts we want to see high streets being used by local people and for local people.

The concept has already been put into practice in some areas.


The former Somerfield market is currently holding an arts exhibition until mid-August featuring paintings, photography, a short film, degree work, craftwork sculpture and textiles.

Erdington Artspace Exhibition

Erdington Artspace Exhibition

Photo credit: Erdington Arts Forum

Newcastle under Lyme

Newcastle Borough Council‘s community team has set up a twice-weekly juice bar for young people in a vacant shop in the town centre, which opened in the first week of August.

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