About the fund

The Future High Streets Fund is a £675 million Government fund to help regenerate 100 town centres across the country as attractive places to live and work and respond to the shrinking demand for retail space.

The fund is made up from two stages - an initial revenue grant for local areas to develop proposals and a second competitive application for capital funding to implement. Heanor was chosen as one of first 50 towns to receive the first stage funding and has been awarded £100,000 to develop a detailed proposal and a business case for capital money.

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It's a £675 million Government fund to help regenerate 100 town centres across the country as attractive places to live and work and respond to the shrinking demand for retail space. 

The fund is made up of two stages - an initial grant for selected local areas to develop proposals and a second competitive application for those selected areas to get funding to put the proposals in place.

Heanor was chosen as one of first 50 towns and has received £150,000 to develop detailed proposals and a business case for funding. This draft business case application has now been submitted based on the Future High Streets Fund time frames, we are awaiting feedback from government and continue to work on the application for final submission in late April.

The government has made no guarantee of further funding being available for each town and it remains a competitive process.  

Each council could only put one town forward and, in order to qualify, the area needed to have a higher rate of empty shops than the national average. Each authority was invited to submit one town and the Amber Valley town that demonstrate to the highest need is Heanor therefore we could not submit Alfreton, Belper or Ripley.

It was agreed that Heanor would be the focus of our bid as it stood the best chance of securing investment.

Heanor has great assets such as good quality heritage buildings, an historic market place, active community and business groups, new independent retail businesses, and a Tesco food store and retail park which draw regular shoppers from beyond the immediate Heanor area.

However, there are some challenges facing Heanor Town centre, which proposals aim to address such as:

  • Vacant shop units, particularly down the hill towards the retail park. Closure of national retailers and banks
  • A vehicle dominated marketplace surrounded by some poor quality shopfronts.
  • Heavy traffic though the town centre
  • Lack of quality small business office space
  • Hidden and underused car parking on Whysall Street car parks.
  • Lack of green pedestrian entrances and connections to the town

We have appointed a team of consultants to help us draw up a business plan. The team includes urban designers, commercial estate consultants, transport analysts as well as development economists. They are looking at:

  • finding new uses for empty buildings and underused areas - including the Grammar School, underused car parking areas and derelict spaces.
  • improving pedestrian links to and from the High Street but creating pedestrian walkways through the Grammar School site and onto the High Street as well as creating green walking routes from the retail park.
  • Reviewing how to increase community engagement, leisure, housing or business use in the town centre - which will help sustain footfall for shops as well as providing places for people to live or work
  • Opportunities to build in broadband and environmental improvements.
  • They will also be looking at the best options for putting these measures in place. This might include considering whether the council should purchase land or buildings; work in partnership with other investors; or provide incentives for property owners to do it themselves.

No. The government funding cannot be spent on retail. Retailers make commercial decisions based on a wide range of factors when choosing where to locate stores - most of these factors are outside of the council's influence.

However, if our bid is successful we could use the funding to transform the vacant and public areas in the town centre, to make it a place where people want to visit and live.

We share residents concern about the changes in national retailing which are leading to empty shops across many towns including Heanor.

Business rates are set nationally by Government (Valuation Office), and we only collect the amount payable by each business. Legally we do not have the ability to offer a discount or give preferential tax deductions to certain retailers to encourage them to either come to or stay in the town.

There are a number of discounts or exemptions for business with low rateable values.

The council makes planning decisions on whether a property is suitable for retail or other uses, but we do not have the power to make these decisions based on the quality of the retailer or to choose the products that they sell. If an existing shop is taken over by a new trader, including a charity shop, they do not require any permission from the council to do this.

The main ways that the council can influence the High Street, are by taking an 'open for business' approach that promotes the town and welcomes new companies and providing a clean, safe and attractive environment which will attract customers and encourage people to come into the town centre.

The criteria have been set by the Government and any proposals will need to deliver clear economic benefits. This means not everything we may want to see happen can be funded.

The council is leading on the business case, supported by our consultants.

Yes. There has already been strong support for our first stage application and we received letters of support from business, public sector, voluntary & community stakeholders as part of our initial successful shortlisting application.

We have already carried out consultations with property owners and stakeholders and in October 2019, we shared draft plans and option ideas as part of a two day public consultation, gathering the feedback to further inform the draft plans.

It is expected that most towns will ask for between £5 million and £10 million in their business cases. It is also expected that this will bring in significant amounts of other money from the private sector both in the short and longer term.

The first steps will be:

  • working to submit a planning application for any changes that are required 
  • working with the property owners 
  • tendering for works
Need further help or information?

Contact the team directly on 01773 841496 or email regeneration@ambervalley.gov.uk