Mayor urges small business & community groups to apply for £9m fund
Small businesses and community groups on London’s high streets are being encouraged to apply for a share of a new £9m fund from the Mayor of London to help revitalise and even potentially change the way we use our high streets.
The Mayor’s team are looking to use the new funding to support ideas that go beyond ‘business as usual’ activities. They are particularly keen for small businesses to take a leading role in bidding for grants to boost their local town centres.
Grants can be used to smarten up shop fronts, improve public spaces or to hold mini festivals but the aim will be for firms and community groups to be at the heart of that funding.
London’s high streets are the heartbeat of the capital’s business community. They are home to 175,000 businesses (47 per cent of those businesses being outside central London), employ almost 1.5m people and two thirds of Londoners live within five minutes of one.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “I welcome ideas that are as distinctive as the high streets they serve; whether you are a local group who wants to turn that empty shop into a crèche for your community or a restaurateur desperate for help with a licensing issue holding you back from using the pavement outside your café. High streets are London’s most prized urban asset and this fund will invest in, support and champion their continued growth and success.”
The Mayor is looking for places that have potential for growth and where there is the commitment and capacity for long-term change. Successful applications will need to think outside the box and consider the many hidden spaces for development that can be rejuvenated. It is essential that the projects are innovative in order to meet the many needs of the high street whilst nurturing business and enhancing civic life.
The Mayor’s team have made the case for the capital’s high streets being an obvious location to accommodate the new homes and jobs required in London. They highlight the huge amount of potential space for development they contain, whether above the supermarket or health centre, behind the railway station or on top of a car park.
London’s high streets have always evolved to take on new challenges and, sensitively managed, these locations can reinvent themselves to find ways of accommodating new types of housing, retail and enterprise space in a way that supports their heritage and character.
Delegates gathered at City Hall today (2 October) as details of the fund were unveiled by the Chairman of the Mayor’s Design Advisory Group, Daniel Moylan, who said: “By tapping into the encyclopaedic knowledge and creative minds of local groups and businesses, we can unlock empty units above supermarkets and health centres, wasteland behind railway stations or space on top of car parks to breathe new life into these bustling centres of the community.”
Notes to editors
1. The Mayor of London’s High Street Fund opens to applications on 2 October 2014. The submission deadline is 1 December 2014. Successful projects will be announced in January 2015 and grant agreements signed in March 2015. The fund closes in March 2016. There is no submission deadline for smaller grants of up to £20,000.
3. Independent organisations can apply for grants of up to £20,000 to support at least one activity. Local authority endorsement isn’t a requirement, although it is preferred. Larger groups, such as Business Improvement Districts and Local Authorities are eligible for up to £200,000 to undertake more than one activity. Larger amounts of up to £2m are available to boroughs. For any submissions over £20,000, the Mayor would expect to fund 50 per cent of the total project value through the High Street Fund, with the remainder met by matched funding and wider leverage, including a significant contribution from the Local Authority. Specialist Assistance Teams from the Greater London Authority are also in place to help bidders define and push forward their chosen actions.
4. The Mayor’s team are also encouraging organisations bidding for the smaller grants to use SpaceHive, which is the world’s first ‘crowd funding’ website for civic projects. Bidders can post their project plans on the spacehive website with the aim of attracting additional community support and funding for their plans.
5. Earlier this year the Mayor launched an ‘Action for High Streets’ plan, which considers the lessons learnt from several years of working with businesses and describes City Hall’s continued plans to help high streets to thrive. The Mayor also released a “Learning from London’s High Streets” document that describes how high street projects already funded under the current Mayoralty are making a huge difference in the capital.
6. The High Street renewal programme, overseen by funding from the Mayor, has already:
• Created and safeguarded over 780 jobs.
• Provided training for 400 young Londoners.
• Formed eight new trade associations, supported 11 existing associations and revived five more.
• Created or improved over 30,000 sq metres of public realm.
• Brought more than 50 empty shops back into life.
• Supported almost 50 local events and celebrations.