Town through to next round as masterplan gets green light
Farnworth town centre has been chosen to go through to the second phase of the government’s £675m Future High Streets Fund.
Bolton Council put forward a £25m bid earlier this year for a share of the multi-million pound pot of cash to help improve town centres.
And the authority’s bid for Farnworth has been selected to go forward into the next stage of assessment.
The £675m fund was set up to support local areas to make their high streets and town centres fit for the future.
Farnworth is one of only 50 areas across the country through to the second phase, despite most local authorities in the country submitting at least one funding bid.
As a result of being selected, the council will now receive a grant of up to £150,000 to help develop a full business case for the proposed investment programme.
The news gives a further boost to regeneration plans for Farnworth and comes as the council’s Cabinet approved the town centre masterplan (on July 8).
The council has adopted the masterplan following a wide-scale consultation with residents.
It sets out objectives and a new vision for the town centre, including a new community and civil hub in the heart of Farnworth, improved public realm, redeveloping the Market Precinct and extending the leisure centre.
Initial terms have already been agreed with the current owner St Modwen to acquire the precinct and a successful Future High Streets funding bid will help ensure key projects within the masterplan can be delivered.
Council leader Cllr David Greenhalgh said he was delighted that Farnworth has progressed to the next round.
He said: “This is brilliant news for Farnworth and work will now begin into building the business case for funding.
“We want to deliver the changes that people across the borough want to see and I believe that the Future High Street Fund bid will bring us one step closer to regenerating our town centres.
“The masterplan approved today gives us a solid foundation, a vision, and a strategy for what we want to achieve.”
The council also lodged a bid for funding for Bolton town centre but this did not get through to the next stage.
Deputy Leader, Cllr Martyn Cox, said: “Getting our Farnworth bid through to the next round is a fantastic achievement against stiff competition from, we believe, nearly every other town in the country.
“We’re delighted that one of our bids has been successful. Our Bolton town centre masterplan has already secured significant private sector backing, and it is good news that the Farnworth funding bid has progressed but we are not relying on this bid alone.
“We will be cracking on with our strategy regardless of whether we are ultimately successful in securing the £25m we have bid for, from the fund.
“We are focussing on what we want to achieve for town centres across the borough and £16m has already been allocated to support the regeneration of Farnworth, Horwich, Little Lever and Westhoughton town centres.”
The maximum award under FHSF is £25 million but most successful bids are expected to receive £10 to £15 million.
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Our high streets lie at the heart of local communities – creating jobs, boosting the economy and helping small businesses thrive.
“But new technology and changes in the way we shop means they also face growing challenges, so I’m delighted over 50 towns will initially benefit from this scheme.”
Farnworth is also one of Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham’s Town Centre challenge areas.