£4m on offer to market towns

Leighton Buzzard market

Leighton Buzzard market

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Leighton Buzzard could get a slice of £4 million that’s on offer to help reinvigorate market towns.

Central Beds Council is inviting town councils to bid for funding from the Market Town Regeneration Fund.

The two-year initiative (from 2016 to 2018) is aimed principally at market towns facing pressures from significant population growth.

Similar initiatives in other UK towns have resulted in improvements to shopfronts 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 set criteria that include an innovative and evidence-based approach, an understanding of Central Beds Council’s wider Market Towns Programme and a clear vision of business, economic, social and cultural impacts.

Executive member for regeneration, Nigel Young, said: “Our market towns are the heart of our communities and have a vital role in shaping and supporting sustainable economic growth.

““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 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 invited to an event on November 18 at Central Beds Council Chambers, in Chicksands, to hear more about the fund. Guest speakers will talk about best practice from around the country.

The deadline for submissions is February 29.