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North West high streets progress to second stage for government fund

North West high streets remain in the running for a share of the government’s £675 million Future High Streets Fund.

Several locations in the region are among more than 50 around the country to make the shortlist, with the areas’ local authorities invited to progress to the business case development stage of the process.

Cheshire East Council’s Crewe bid was carried through to the second phase, along with Wirral Council’s visions for Birkenhead and New Ferry, and plans for Oldham, Stockport and Wigan.

According to the government, the successful towns will now receive up to £150,000 of new funding to work up detailed project proposals to reinvent their town centres, based on the local authorities’ initial plans.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will work with the areas, focusing on places that have “shovel ready” projects which might have opportunities to accelerate them.

High streets minister, Jake Berry MP says: “High Streets are a crucial part of our local economies and people care about them because they are also the centres of their community.

“But we recognise that changing consumer behaviour and the rise of online shopping presents a significant challenge and that’s why we are taking action to help them evolve.

“Many of our high streets are successfully re-inventing themselves and with these new plans now in development, local leaders, who know their areas best, will be driving forward the transformation of their town centres into further great success stories.”

Cheshire East Council, which initially submitted bids for both Crewe and Macclesfield, has welcomed the selection of Crewe to move forward onto the next stage of assessment.

The news follows recent announcements regarding the remodelling and refurbishment of Crewe Market Hall and the redevelopment of the Royal Arcade site (pictured).

Councillor Nick Mannion, Cheshire East Council’s cabinet member for environment and regeneration, says: “This is great news for Crewe but we recognise that we need to do a lot more work to build the business case for funding.

“We have laid solid foundations for regeneration but believe there’s a lot more that can be done to help Crewe achieve its potential and re-establish itself as the primary destination in south Cheshire for residents and visitors.”

The local authority says that it has received no notification either way regarding its Macclesfield bid, but Cllr Mannion adds: “It can be presumed that we have not been successful with our bid for Macclesfield and while this is obviously very disappointing news, we will continue to push on with our plans and strategy to deliver a revitalised Macclesfield town centre – ensuring it is a great place to live, work and visit.”