The Prime Minister has set out his vision of how the Government would level up and unite the country, and his commitment to breathe new life into town centres and developing rundown commercial properties.
He was speaking at the launch of the Government’s long-term plan to support the evolution and regeneration of high streets.
Councils in England will be given the power to transform towns, taking over derelict buildings through compulsory purchase orders so they can be converted into new homes if property owners stall on regeneration plans.
Councils will also be encouraged to use existing powers to convert empty offices into housing, and empty shops will be transformed into entertainment venues or thriving new businesses without the need for planning permission.
Local economies and plans for growth will be boosted with 15 Town Deals totalling £335 million.
The Town Deals will fund community regeneration projects including repurposing empty shops on high streets, creating new public spaces, transforming a riverfront area into a community hub with entertainment and leisure venues, and creating a new digital enterprise and learning centre.
Town Deals have now been offered to all 101 places that were invited to develop proposals.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “With more funding for town centres and powers for communities to take a stake in their local area, we are delivering on our commitments to level up and put power in the hands of local people.”
Councils will be encouraged to take a more hands-on approach to cleaning up graffiti, supported by £2 million in funding and new guidance for councils in England will be published giving examples of good practice, drawing on the latest research and professional expertise and highlighting the importance of keeping high streets clean and clear of graffiti.
Government funding will be available to save local venues loved by a community. Details have been published setting out how community groups across the UK can bid for up to £250,000 in matched funding from the £150 million Community Ownership Fund to take over local pubs, theatres, shops and sports grounds at risk of closure.
The announcement follows major investment and action from Government to level up opportunity and prosperity across all areas of the country, including through the £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund, the £220 million UK-wide Community Renewal Fund and the £830 million Future High Streets Fund.
This builds on significant flexibilities already made in the planning system, so that empty offices and shops can be converted into housing, and retail businesses can change use without needing planning permission.
The Government will continue to work closely with the devolved administrations, local authorities and partners across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as the strategy is implemented.
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