Towns Fund Prospectus Launched

The prospectus for the Towns Fund, a £3.6 billion regeneration project, has now been revealed, allowing local authorities to start drawing up plans to revive their towns.

Overseen by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the Towns Fund aims to tackle inequalities by raising productivity and improving infrastructure in those parts of the country where economies lag furthest behind. The Towns Fund is not a new funding pot in itself. Essentially it comprises the £1.6 billion “Stronger Towns Fund” announced in March 2019, and the £1 billion “High Street Fund” announced in October 2018, with an extra £1 billion added.

101 towns selected as the first beneficiaries - the areas of regeneration

The government has already published a list of 101 disadvantaged towns invited to apply for Towns Fund support, including 45 places across the North and 30 places in the Midlands. In due course, the government intends to announce details of further rounds of towns to benefit from the initiative.

At this stage, each town has the opportunity to bid for up to £25 million of funding to address growth constraints. Funds are intended to deliver long term economic and productivity growth through:

  • Urban regeneration, planning and land use: creating thriving places for people to live and work, including through densification of development, site acquisition, use of planning powers and strengthening local cultural assets. 
  • Skills and enterprise infrastructure: to drive private sector investment and support business by providing the skills that employers need and increasing young people’s access to and progression in employment.
  • Connectivity: providing high quality, well-designed infrastructure and connectivity, both physically and digitally.

Examples of new Town Deals are expected to include the development of new homes or commercial buildings by redeveloping vacant buildings or land, improved transport infrastructure and broadband connectivity, as well as social and cultural infrastructure, from libraries and art centres to parks. Each area has the flexibility to develop a plan that is right for them with a collaborative approach, which harnesses the perspectives of diverse partners, expected to shape proposals.

Preparing for a Town Deal: Stages and courses of action

Key dates are:

November 2019: capacity funds received to allow plans to be progressed.

By 19th November: readiness checklist to be completed.

By the end of January 2020: the shortlisted towns are required to form Town Deal Boards, comprising partners including members of local government authorities and representatives from the private sector who can help to drive forward planning and investment.  

By the end of summer 2020:  submit a Town Investment Plan that outlines the area’s assets, opportunities and challenges as well as the investment priorities to drive growth. The plans need to include a strategic vision and outline short, medium and long term interventions in order to agree a Town Deal with government.

2020/21: Town Deals agreed.

The government has already announced £16.4 million of “capacity funding” to help councils access the £3.6 billion Towns Fund, with each shortlisted town eligible to receive between £140,000 and £173,029, depending on population, to develop their plans. This “capacity-funding” will support the development of detailed proposals from the initial stage of convening Town Deal Boards and promotion activities, to the provision of technical expertise for business case development.

Overall, the proposals are expected to align with and further complement the existing local plan strategies. Moreover, according to government guidelines, where towns are both preparing to agree a Town Deal and are already involved in the Future High Streets Fund, “plans are expected to be aligned, whilst still meeting the separate objectives of the funds”.

How ekosgen can help

ekosgen has a wealth of knowledge and experience in economic development and regeneration. Our team has an extensive track record of producing successful business cases that have helped clients secure public sector funding for transformational projects across the country and is currently preparing a series of Future High Streets business cases. Our team is available to support towns to develop the proposals and the documentation needed to reach their Town Deal agreement.

For more information please contact Kirsten Powell on 0845 644 3023 or kirsten.powell@ekosgen.co.uk