Major boost as £11m Blyth Town Centre funding approved
26 Dec 2020
The County Council has welcomed the news that a major funding bid unlocking up to £31m investment to transform Blyth town centre has been approved by government.
Blyth was one of 50 towns shortlisted to benefit from the Government’s £1 billion Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) and the Government has now confirmed that Blyth’s application has been successful.
The council has been awarded £11.12m from FHSF which is complimented by significant funding support of £20m by the County Council approved earlier this year.
The approved funding will support a programme delivering a revitalised Blyth Market Place and Bridge Street with new culture and leisure facilities in the heart of the town centre.
The town’s established reputation as a centre for the Energy and offshore wind industry will be bolstered by the development of a new research and education Energy Institute.
The programme also includes projects which focus on improving green space, cycling and walking improvements to better connect the town centre to the quayside.
The County Council is working as part of the Blyth Town Deal Board with public, private and community sector partners to back the ‘Energising Blyth’ vision. Creating a Vibrant Town is a key objective for the town with the aim of developing new projects which could help the town centre to be more attractive, welcoming and safe in the future.
The plans prepared are based on the results of over a year of engagement through the Blyth Town Forum with local users of the town centre. Consultation has been carried out with businesses, the local community and schools including two drop-in events in the town centre which attracted thousands of visitors.
The council will now be working with partners to develop a full delivery programme with preparations beginning in earnest for the FHSF scheme to deliver over three years from Spring 2021. There will be further detailed engagement with the community, businesses and partners as the scheme is developed.
In early 2021 the town will also benefit from the new Northern Gateway project supported by the national Towns Fund, Northumberland County Council and Blyth Town Council, which will introduce an improved town centre environment focused on Bowes Street, Church Street and Wanley Street, which will eventually be integrated with the FHSF programme.
A new ‘Town Deal’ is also set to be agreed with Government in Spring 2021 which could bring in up to a further £47m programme to help the town to grow, improve and renew between 2022-2026.
Council leader Glen Sanderson said: “I’m delighted the Government have backed our ambitious plans to transform Blyth town centre.
“This will be a major boost to the town centre as it also restructures and recovers from the impact of Covid19. This award is a testament to the strong partnership working in the town, and thanks to residents and businesses who have told us they care about Blyth, are proud of their town but also want to see the town centre thrive again.”
Councillor Richard Wearmouth, Cabinet Member for Business and Tourism, said “The Future High Streets Fund will ensure Blyth town centre is a place that people once again want to spend time in.
“It’s hugely exciting to get this news on the back of the recent announcements about the planned investment on Northumberland Energy Park and progress in re-instating the Northumberland Line.
“ I’m very much looking forward to seeing a major impact across the area that will benefit everyone.”
Blyth Town Council Mayor Warren Taylor added: “Blyth Town Council welcomes the exciting news of this further investment in our town centre. We look forward to working with Northumberland County Council through the Blyth Town Forum, on developing and delivering these exciting new projects to transform our town centre."