Ramsgate is one of 50 towns that have been shortlisted in the £1 billion Future High Streets Fund, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed today (August 26).
The towns announced today will join 50 successful areas already shortlisted to develop plans to reinvent their high streets.
The funding could be used to improve transport and access into town centres, convert empty retail units into new homes and workplaces, and invest in vital infrastructure.
The extension to the shortlist comes on the back of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund announced last month, which included an additional £325 million for the Future High Streets Fund, taking the overall Fund to £1 billion as the Government looks to drive forward local growth.
Successful candidates will 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.
Ramsgate Town Council clerk Richard Styles said of the bid when it was submitted in February: “Ramsgate is almost unique in the ONS Coastal Communities list of most deprived coastal towns in not receiving any appreciable financial assistance from central or local government. Private finance has delivered new business on the harbour front but has been unable to deliver the sort of town centre that the community wants and deserves.
“This lack of funding has made Ramsgate very canny in using what little money it has received by building capacity to deliver a project when the chance occurs.
“Our Commonplace survey in late 2017 gave us a substantial insight on what our community thought and wanted from its town centre. This is of immeasurable benefit when making applications for funding as donors always ask if the community will support what is being proposed and we can show in some detail what the community in Ramsgate is thinking and what it hopes to see in the future.
“Based on what (residents) have told us they want to see a town centre for everyone, with interesting shops, a range of activities, great experiences and above all a place that is clean, well-kept and safe.
“It will mean the construction of a circular local economy, where a larger slice of revenue and capital are recycled within Ramsgate and not remitted to other parts of the UK or overseas.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our high streets are right at the heart of our communities, and I will do everything I can to make sure they remain vibrant places where people want to go, meet and spend their money.
“But with our town centres facing challenges, we’re today expanding the High Streets Fund to support over 100 high streets to regenerate – backed by £1 billion of vital investment.
“This scheme is going to reenergise and transform even more of our high streets – helping them to attract new businesses, boost local growth, and create new infrastructure and jobs.”
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay MP said: “I am delighted that Ramsgate will receive an immediate £150,000, and that Thanet District Council can develop proposals that will genuinely keep the high street at the beating heart of the community.
“We’re not there yet, but this is a significant step towards bringing new life into the High Street.”
Cllr Reece Pugh, Thanet District Council’s Cabinet Member for Coastal Development said:“We welcome the announcement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and are delighted that Ramsgate is one of the 50 successful towns to be invited to put our application forward into the next phase of assessment of the Future High Streets fund.
“We want to develop a thriving and sustainable high street and having up to £150,000 to work up detailed project proposals, to be ready to bid for capital funds, is another step closer to achieving that goal.
“We would like to thank the Coastal Community Team, Ramsgate Town Team, Ramsgate Society and Ramsgate Town Council who share our positive vision for the area and helped shape the expression of interest for Ramsgate. This is a great opportunity to unlock the town’s potential for investment, transform the high street and support job creation.”
Dover is also on the High Street Funds shortlist.
The scheme was launched in December 2018 and is a key part of the Government’s plan to renew and reshape town centres and high streets in a way that drives economic growth and sustainably improves living standards in our communities.”