Councillors are to be asked to approve a £20 million fund to help make Stafford the best town centre in the UK.
More than £14m from a Government backed pot to improve high streets, along with around £5.4 million from Stafford Borough Council, is to be earmarked for huge regeneration of the north end of the town centre in the local authority’s ‘Capital Programme.’
The vision includes increasing the number of people living in the town – to support the retail and hospitality sectors - creating new pedestrian routes around the centre with great links to public transport; enhanced spaces encouraging people to socialise with a revamped Market Square as the focal point for events and activities.
Councillors will be told that the project is expected to also be backed by major private sector investment and further details are commercially confidential.
The report to go before the Full Council on Tuesday (23 February) says the Indoor Market could be relocated, and re-designed, to improve footfall as part of the regeneration plans.
The council is already working to agree plans with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government having been provisionally awarded £14.3 million after a successful bid to the Future High Streets Fund.
The money is ringfenced for projects within the town’s High Street that are aimed at breathing new life into the north of the town centre.
But a meeting of the council will hear that the cash cannot be spent on “short-term, surface-level projects that only make a difference to the appearance, rather than the use of the area.”
The Borough Council is working closely with the County Council on the scheme which will see the ’biggest transformation of the High Street in a generation.’
Councillor Mike Smith, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “Our vision is to breathe new life into the town centre with the aim of making it the best in the UK. The Government has backed our plans; we have support from the private sector; and our public sector partners are already working with us to deliver this vision.
“To put it briefly, we are proposing the biggest transformation of the High Street in Stafford in a generation – and the investment we are asking the council to approve will help us achieve this.”
He continued: “Many high streets and retailers across the UK have struggled from a combination of a worldwide recession in 2008, the increase in internet shopping, and the results of Covid-19.
“To address this we will look to increase the number of people living in the centre, make it easier to access key retail areas and public transport, and create attractive meeting spaces to bring people into the town for cultural, and other reasons, which can support a reduced retail space.”
The full council agenda is at www.staffordbc.gov.uk/1920-committee-meetings
Press Release No 5738