Shoppers and businesses along Brierley Hill High Street are in line for a boost after a £2million funding bid got the green light – the second cash announcement in as many weeks.
Historic England has agreed Dudley Council’s funding bid to improve the High Street as part of the Heritage Action Zone (HAZ).
It comes just weeks after the Government announced Brierley Hill was one of 100 towns selected to go forward into the next phase of assessment for the Future High Street initiative – if successful a further £16million would be pumped into the area.
This latest funding announcement will trigger the development of a full funding bid with Historic England, due for completion in January 2020. The funding over four years will come though once those designs are approved, with the exact amount of funding to be confirmed next year.
The money will be used to make improvements to the properties along the High Street, many of which are empty and in a poor state of repair. The money will help bring them back into use, either for retail or housing.
New signs are being planned, along with improvements to the street scene, which will make gateway entrances at either end of the High Street more attractive. There are also plans to explore the potential for a new pedestrian link to the new Midland Metro extension, expected in 2023.
Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said:
"This is absolutely brilliant news. This substantial investment from Historic England will allow us to invest in Brierley Hill, supporting local businesses and hopefully enticing new businesses to this central location. We look forward to working with them on the next stage of this process, the Programme Design.
"Alongside the Metro extension which will be coming to Brierley Hill in 2023, and the DY5 enterprise zone this investment will help us breathe new life into the town and continue to make Brierley Hill the place to work, invest and grow.
"On top of that we have the green light to progress a bid for £16million from the government’s Future High Streets Fund, which means we are continuing to invest in this important town centre.”
The HAZ bid forms the lions’ share of the near £2.9 million scheme, with the council putting in nearly £400,000 along with £500,000 match funding from the private sector.
Last month (August) the government announced that Brierley Hill was one of 100 town centres put forward to the next round of bidding for the £1billion Future High Streets Fund. It will see empty shops turned into new shops, offices and housing under the scheme. It will also help bring in private investors and improve transport links.
Meanwhile, the council is looking to set up a People’s Panel giving handpicked people a chance to have their say on future regeneration plans across the borough, including Brierley Hill. Letters are due to go out this month (September) to potential panel members, with the first panel due to meet later in the year.