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£4m fund aims to revive market towns

The Market Town Regeneration Fund provides the chance to work in partnership with Central Bedfordshire Council and explore ways to fulfil their economic potential. 

Aimed principally at market towns facing pressures from significant population growth, the two-year initiative (from 2016-2018) is backed by the continuing work being delivered by the council on areas of regeneration, business support, employment and skills.

Similar initiatives elsewhere in the UK have resulted in improvements to shop fronts and buildings; imaginative solutions for empty shops and public spaces; nurturing markets, events and heritage projects; and community engagement initiatives.

Successful bids from town councils will be assessed against a set criteria that includes:

  • An innovative and evidence-based approach
  • Understanding of Central Bedfordshire Council’s wider Market Towns Programme
  • A clear vision of business, economic, social and cultural impacts

Cllr Nigel Young (pictured), Central Bedfordshire’s executive member for regeneration, said: "Our market towns are the heart of our communities, our daily lives and have a vital role in shaping and supporting sustainable economic growth.

"Our Market Towns Programme is already in place along with many other regeneration projects that have and will help our communities keep pace with the changing needs of our lives in the 21st century.

"Undoubtedly our market towns face challenges, such as evolving shopping and leisure patterns and pressures of population growth, but with the right support they can thrive.

"I await with anticipation the range of ideas that will be put forward to achieve this, and while this one-off Market Town Regeneration Fund won’t provide a single fix, the successful proposals will deliver tangible improvements that will make a real difference."

Town council representatives are being invited to attend an event on November 18 at Central Bedfordshire Council Chambers, Priory House, Chicksands, to hear more about the fund and listen to guest speakers on best practice from around the country.

The deadline for submissions is 5pm on 29 February 2016 and the announcement of successful bids will be made at the end of March.     

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