Portishead will not benefit from £675m funding for High Street renovation
PUBLISHED: 06:50 29 January 2019
Portishead is set to miss out on vital funding which could revitalise its struggling High Street.
The £675million Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) was launched by the Government this month, to inject much-needing cash into struggling retail areas across the country.
The kitty will be used to future-proof high streets as the online shopping market becomes more dominant and fewer people do their shopping in town centres.
But Portishead – which has seen shops and banks shut in recent years amid declining footfall – is unlikely to receive a share of the cash, with North Somerset Council focussing its efforts on securing funding for Weston. Only one town per local authority area can apply for funding, and a lack of ‘evidence’ and lower levels of deprivation have been cited as reasons why the council has prioritised Weston over Portishead.
At recent meetings Portishead Town Council has been maligned by some members of the public for not creating a neighbourhood development plan or town vision, which would have seen homeowners consulted on their desires for the town’s future.
Without these documents, and the public wishlist of development ideas they would have included, the town is unlikely to be chosen to receive FHSF cash.
Town clerk Andrea Durn, speaking at the council’s meeting on January 23, said: “In the autumn statement the Chancellor said he was looking to help rejuvenate high streets across because of the problems across the country.
“I contacted North Somerset and asked if Portishead was being considered. They were having a meeting to go through the prospectus and I haven’t had the results of that meeting yet but they did forewarn each local authority can only put forward one town in their area.
“That would be chosen by a specific criteria and it would need a good evidence base – which Portishead doesn’t have.”
The announcement was met with widespread discontent from councillors and the public.
Ms Durn added: “Deprivation is a factor and compared with other towns in North Somerset we don’t meet that criteria.
“The main thing we failed on, though, is we don’t have the evidence of who wants what.”