Government announces £11million funding for Blyth town centre

Northumberland has won a major funding bid unlocking up to £31million of investment to transform Blyth town centre.

By Ross Robertson
Saturday, 26th December 2020, 10:16 am
Blyth town centre has been awarded cash in a round of funding from the Government.
Blyth town centre has been awarded cash in a round of funding from the Government.

Blyth was one of 50 towns shortlisted to benefit from the Government’s £1billion Future High Streets Fund (FHSF), and Ministers have now confirmed that its application has been successful.

The £11.12million from FHSF compliments £20million from Northumberland County Council approved earlier this year.

The county council said the approved funding will support a programme delivering a revitalised Blyth Market Place and Bridge Street with new culture and leisure facilities in the heart of the town centre.

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Council leader Glen Sanderson said: “I’m delighted the Government have backed our ambitious plans to transform Blyth town centre.

“This will be a major boost to the town centre as it also restructures and recovers from the impact of Covid19. This award is a testament to the strong partnership working in the town, and thanks to residents and businesses who have told us they care about Blyth, are proud of their town but also want to see the town centre thrive again.”

Minister for High Streets, Kelly Tolhurst, said: “The year ahead will be an exciting one for high streets across the North East, with Government investing across the region to boost its much-loved town centres, creating spaces communities can be proud of and delivering on our Plan for Jobs.

She added: “We’re levelling up every part of the country to deliver opportunity and prosperity and I am proud that the North East will benefit from this important investment.”

The county council said Blyth’s established reputation as a centre for the Energy and offshore wind industry will be bolstered by the development of a new research and education Energy Institute.

The programme also includes projects which focus on improving green space, cycling and walking improvements to better connect the town centre to the quayside.

The county council is working as part of the Blyth Town Deal Board with public, private and community sector partners to back the ‘Energising Blyth’ vision.

Creating a Vibrant Town is a key objective for the town with the aim of developing new projects which could help the town centre to be more attractive, welcoming and safe in the future.

The council said plans prepared are based on the results of over a year of engagement through the Blyth Town Forum with local users of the town centre. Consultation has been carried out with businesses, the local community and schools including two drop-in events in the town centre which attracted thousands of visitors.

The council said it will now be working with partners to develop a full delivery programme with preparations beginning in earnest for the FHSF scheme to deliver over three years from Spring 2021.

In early 2021 the town will also benefit from the new Northern Gateway project supported by the national Towns Fund, Northumberland County Council and Blyth Town Council, which will introduce an improved town centre environment focused on Bowes Street, Church Street and Wanley Street, which will eventually be integrated with the FHSF programme.

A new ‘Town Deal’ is also set to be agreed with Government in Spring 2021 which could bring in up to a further £47million programme to help the town to grow, improve and renew between 2022-2026.

Councillor Richard Wearmouth, Cabinet Member for Business and Tourism, said “The Future High Streets Fund will ensure Blyth town centre is a place that people once again want to spend time in.

“It’s hugely exciting to get this news on the back of the recent announcements about the planned investment on Northumberland Energy Park and progress in re-instating the Northumberland Line.

“I’m very much looking forward to seeing a major impact across the area that will benefit everyone.”

Blyth Town Council Mayor Warren Taylor added: “Blyth Town Council welcomes the exciting news of this further investment in our town centre. We look forward to working with Northumberland County Council through the Blyth Town Forum, on developing and delivering these exciting new projects to transform our town centre."

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