Future High Street Fund
We have submitted an Expression of Interest to the £675m Future High Street Fund, which has been endorsed by the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Agency, who fully support our vision for the city centre. Announcement on places moving to Phase 2 (business case development) will be made in summer 2019.
The Government has made a commitment to helping high streets adapt and meet changing consumer expectations. They launched ‘Our Plan’ for the High Street, with the £675m Future High Street Fund Boxing day 2019. A number of other initiatives have been launched including a cut in business rates by up to a third for a wide range of retail properties for two years, a consultation on planning reform to make it simpler to create more homes, jobs and choice in our town centres, and the creation of a High Streets Task Force.
The fund is looking to support challenges that each High Street faces. Exeter’s challenges will be different to those faced elsewhere.
The City Centre is one of the main centres for professional services in Greater Exeter and accommodates a variety of facilities that cannot otherwise be found in the area, such as leisure and cultural venues and a variety of specialist services. The City provides employment, cultural, healthcare and education facilities for a large number of rural communities and is the transport hub for Greater Exeter.
Space for growing and expanding businesses, as well as city living, is extremely limited. Some businesses have relocated to the outskirts of the City or elsewhere to meet their needs. Other businesses looking to re-locate to the City Centre face lengthy waits to find the right premises. This has a knock-on effect for retail and hospitality businesses within the City Centre, losing potential footfall and custom.
The city has the ambition is to be a pioneering place for active lifestyles and to be the leading knowledge economy and entrepreneurial city in the UK, raising productivity and income levels for the benefit of its residents and businesses.
We want a city centre that is fit for purpose for 21st century living, working and socialising; and a city centre that is responsive and agile and adaptable to change within the retail market. It is felt the Future High Street Fund will enable Exeter to meet these ambitions.
If successful with the Expression of Interest, capital funding will be used to bring forward two significant transformational city centre projects:
- Delivery of the South Street Urban Design Proposals
- Delivery of the vision for the bus station site
Both of these transformational projects sit either end of the High Street. A number of smaller projects are proposed that link these two anchor transformational projects together:
A city centre Task Force is being established to drive forward the Expression of Interest. They will also guide and advise on a new City Centre Strategy.