TWO high streets in Portsmouth have a chance of receiving millions of pounds after they were shortlisted for a government fund.
Commercial Road and Fratton Road have been chosen for the next stage of the Future High Streets Fund, a scheme which is giving out £1 billion to help transform high streets across the UK.
If successful the two areas would each be eligible for up to £25 million in funding that can be spent on improving public transport, hosting events such as markets, filling vacant shop units and encouraging business diversification.
Portsmouth City Council will be given £150,000 for each area to help create detailed project proposals which can be used to apply for funding.
In a letter confirming the successful applications MP Robert Jenrick, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, said there was ‘great potential’ in developing Commercial Road that ‘links together residential, students and worker communities to create a thriving hub of activity’.
He said plans for Fratton included improving public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure.
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan welcomed the news, adding that ‘hundreds of people and local businesses’ had raised the issue of the city’s high streets with him.
He said: ‘Today’s news is a step in the right direction, but investment long overdue.
‘With our city too often forgotten by government what we need next is reform of the outdated and broken business rates system, and a government-led strategy to bring all our high streets back to the brink.’
The news follows a series of shock announcements of high street shops closing in the city, including Knight and Lee in Palmerston Road and U Need Us in Arundel Street.
Portsmouth City Council’s deputy leader, Councillor Steve Pitt, said: ‘It is excellent news and it gives us the opportunity to get some really detailed proposals together.’
50 areas were originally chosen for shortlisting earlier this year – with Portsmouth not included – but the government has extended the scheme with another 50 successful applications.
It comes after an extra £325 million was provided by the £3.6 billion Towns Fund, which was announced by the government last month.