Town Centre Enhancement Scheme

Check eligibility and apply for the Town Centre Enhancement Scheme

We are very excited to launch our Town Centre Enhancement Scheme, which will award small grants to support existing independent businesses that would like to replace, improve or carry out repairs to their shop fronts or for other potential enhancement projects.

The aim of this scheme is to encourage businesses to upgrade, repair and refurbish shopfronts in North Devon’s town centres in order to emphasise both the individuality of the business premises and, where appropriate, the historic character of the town centres.

This is a capital grants scheme based on the award to North Devon Council within the UK Shared Prosperity fund investment plan for 2022/2024 within the ‘improvements to town centres and high streets’ strand.

We will contribute up to 50% of total eligible project costs, with businesses expected to match our contribution. The maximum grant available is £2000 or 50% of eligible project costs; whichever is the lower amount. The grant is ideal for supporting small repair or improvement projects such as fascia repairs, signage, painting and decorating, guttering, lighting and more.

As the grant is paid in arrears applicants will initially need to pay for the total project upfront.

There is an open-application approach with no set deadlines throughout the year, meaning applications will be determined on their own eligibility and merit on a first-come, first-served basis.

Scheme guidance

Eligible Buildings and Applicants

Buildings eligible for grant assistance are commercial buildings that are situated within the sub-regional centre of Barnstaple or one of the main centres within North Devon i.e. Braunton, Ilfracombe, Combe Martin, Lynton and Lynmouth and South Molton. If you are within a town centre/high street outside of the above locations please get in touch with us to register your interest as we may be able to widen the scheme if funding allows.

Applicants may be either the freehold owner or lessee; short hold tenants may also apply. Tenants of district council-owned premises are eligible for grant assistance only where the proposed work is not the responsibility of North Devon Council as landlord.

Small or micro businesses are eligible and all charities and social enterprises. Retail, cafés, restaurants, pubs, financial/professional services, tourism and leisure are all eligible. Other cases will be considered on their merits.

As long as individual buildings meet the eligibility criteria, there are no rules limiting the number of buildings owned by a single landlord within the town or b) the number of buildings within a street or area of the town centre to receive a grant. Every application for a separate shop-front unit will be looked at on its own merits.

Delivery is monitored – if no start/progress is made on site within three months then the offer is withdrawn. All funds are to be drawn down within six months.

Eligible Works

The Town Centre Enhancement Scheme is a limited scheme for the enhancement and regeneration of North Devon’s main Town Centres. It focuses on painting, decorating, fascia repairs and signage improvements, guttering and lighting improvements etc. with the aim of enhancing the appearance of the town centres.

Features that could be improved include but are not limited to;

Stall risers

Are usually masonry either rendered or with a decorative finish including natural stone, tiles or timber panels and will depend upon the age and style of the shop front. Appropriate repair or reinstatement would be eligible for grant aid.


The fascia board should be in scale with and respect the other architectural features of the shop front. The grant scheme is intended to encourage removal of later fascia’s that are of inappropriate modern materials or which fail to reflect the existing traditional detailing. It is also intended to encourage the restoration of fascia details in harmony with the features and proportions of the shopfront.

Windows and doors

Traditional windows may be framed in timber or ornate cast iron with transoms and mullions to match. Glass is normally clear but may incorporate stained glass panels above the transoms. Doors will normally be timber with a glazed panel and reflect the proportions of the stall riser to window with a fanlight above in line with any transom. Repair of existing traditional elements and replacement of later inappropriate alterations would be eligible for grant aid.

Signage including brackets for hanging signs

Good quality signs can make an important contribution to the vitality of shopping areas. Sign-writing on painted timber fascias, or application of suitable style individual letters to the fascia would be included as eligible works. In the case of hanging signs the use of existing historic metal brackets may attract grant aid for repairs. New hanging signs can be conventional two-sided hand painted timber or could be three dimensional objects to reflect the type of business. Other types of good quality hanging signs may also attract grant aid.

Other enhancement projects

We would welcome group applications for a street or area, for example gutter clearance.

If you have any other enhancement ideas please contact us for a discussion regarding your idea.

Applications from upper-floor/basement business occupants can be allowed.

Repairs for shopfronts should be for anything that faces the street as long as it has a street-level repair need and relates to the commercial usage of the building

Retrospective applications for work already started or completed are not eligible for funding under this Scheme.

The decision about whether any works proposed are eligible for grant shall be at the sole discretion of North Devon Council.

Supporting papers required

  1. Completed application form
  2. A schedule of the proposed work
  3. 2 itemised estimates
  4. Recent detailed photographs of the building/item to be repaired.
  5. Plans showing the proposals (where appropriate).
  6. Copy of any required planning permission, listed building consent or advertisement consent if required

When is the grant paid?

If the grant application is approved, applicants will have up to four months to submit copies of relevant invoices and bank statements showing that eligible expenditure has been made. All invoices and bank statements must be dated after the grant approval date. Items purchased using cash will not be eligible for grant payment.

The grant amount paid will be the lesser of the agreed amount or half of the eligible expenditure (excluding VAT).

To draw down the grant applicants will need to provide evidence of expenditure on the agreed items  as set out in the application form  (excluding VAT). The grant payment will be made directly into the applicant’s *business bank account via BACS.

*Business bank account definition: A business bank account is a trading commercial account in the name of the applying business. All purchases must be made via the business account and all claim payments will be made to the same business account. Personal or current accounts are NOT eligible.

Apply for a grant

Additional documents

For Advertising and signs guidance