WELCOME BACK FUND: £1m to help Birmingham high streets
More than £1 million is set to be invested into Birmingham’s high streets to help them recover from the Covid pandemic, it has been announced.
As part of the council’s ‘Welcome Back Fund’ 20 different areas of Birmingham will be targeted for the spending.
Nearly a quarter of the money will be spent on events encouraging people to come back to the high street, with £248,000 set aside for this, with a further £276,000 to go towards deep cleaning, graffiti removal and tackling fly-tipping.
£1,016,937 is the second round of funding from the Government to assist in the re-opening of high streets. The previous fund ‘Reopening High Streets Safely’ is now called the ‘Welcome Back Fund’.
Resources are to be provided as 100 per cent European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant funding and any work will need to be appropriately delivered and procured in compliance with the rules and regulations of European grants.
The cash, which must be spent by 31 March, 2022, will also go toward changes to the public space such as providing more outdoor seating and the potential removal of some social distancing measures if and when the time comes.
High Streets set to receive funding from the grant include Erdington, Northfield, Sutton Coldfield, Acocks Green, Colmore Business District, Harborne, Jewellery Quarter, Kings Heath, Retail Birmingham, Soho Road,
Southside, Westside, Alum Rock Road, Bordesley Green, Coventry Road, Meadway, Perry Barr, Small Heath, Stechford and Stirchley.
The improvement of outdoor and green spaces is also on the list of actions set to be taken by the council, with funding available immediately to help with the ‘beautification’ of the city’s high streets.
“In the first round of funding (the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund) the majority of funds were allocated to temporary changes to the public realm
followed by safety communications and then smaller amounts on footfall
counters, staffing etc,” papers from next week’s Cabinet meeting note.
“The guidance is more flexible with the Welcome Back Fund enabling a broader approach, supporting areas to drive footfall whilst allowing for planting, graffiti removal, deep cleaning etc.
“It is felt that this time the majority of grant funding should be targeted at beautification of areas to support the visitor economy, and particularly encouraging seating/café culture to improve footfall and dwell time in
the city centre and urban centre locations.
“It is also proposed that smaller sums of money are allocated to a strategic
visioning review of a new future for high streets in Birmingham as well as some minor public realm i.e. maintenance and subsequent removal of temporary pavement widening measures.”
The proposals are set to be discussed at next week’s Cabinet meeting (June 9).
Words: Tom Dare, Local Democracy Reporter
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