Penzance could be in line to receive a multi-million pound boost to transform and modernise its high street.
Cornwall’s bid to secure an allocation from a national £675m high street fund gained traction this week when Penzance was confirmed by Cornwall Council as the focus for its bid to the Government.
If successful the grant – which would likely see around £10m invested in the West Cornwall town, would pay for a complete reimagining of the town centre and could include high-quality housing replacing failing shops, and a hub for creative businesses.
Launched at the tail-end of 2018, the Future High Streets Fund is key part of the Government’s plan to revive high streets around the country, providing co-funding towards capital projects that transform and regenerate town centres through innovative proposals around transport, housing delivery and public services.
The Government allows just one bid from each local authority area, which has resulted in Penzance being put forward by the Cornwall Council due to the ‘unique mix of regeneration opportunities’ available to tackle the challenges in the town and has been supported by local partners and stakeholders, the Penzance Place Shaping Board and Regeneration Group, businesses and community organisations.
Tim Dwelly, Cornwall councillor for Penzance East, said: “If the bid is successful it could completely rejuvenate Penzance.
“We have worked really hard for years on ideas to improve Penzance and I think one of the reasons we have been chosen as Cornwall’s bid is because we are a united town in terms of ideas of what we can achieve via the town council, BID (Business Improvement District) and the new neighbourhood plan. It’s a real can-do time.”
Those ideas to give struggling Market Jew Street a rebirth include getting rid of low-quality retail in favour of residential living in the town centre.
Dwelly added: “We need to have more people living, working and playing on our high street.”
Local MP Derek Thomas said: “This exciting opportunity for Penzance will provide an important catalyst to ensure viability and vitality for our high street and promote much-needed growth, jobs and skills provision for the whole town and beyond.
“Penzance is not short of ambition and aspiration and it is to the credit of a number of people here in west Cornwall that the Government has heard our plea and created the High Street Fund. There is now a renewed opportunity for the community, businesses and organisations to come together to develop joined up proposals that will pave the way for future prosperity.”
Cornwall Council’s Cabinet member for planning and the economy Bob Egerton said: “The Penzance proposal is backed by extensive local support through and with the leadership of the Penzance Place Shaping Board. While we are disappointed that we are only able to support one town in this first round of bidding, I am sure that Cornwall will get behind the Penzance bid to ensure that rural areas get their fair share of funding.”
The council will now work with partners, stakeholders and businesses in Penzance to submit an expression of interest to the Government by 22 March.