Frequently asked questions on our FHSF bid
We have been asked lots of questions about how and why we shaped our bid to the Future High Streets Fund. Our 'frequently asked questions' (FAQs) below will address these questions and bust some myths surrounding our bid.
Where is the money coming from?
All councils were invited to bid for this money as part of central government’s Future High Streets Fund, to support the regeneration of our High Streets. Barnstaple’s bid was submitted to MHCLG in July 2020. We requested £9.45 million for four projects in the town. We were awarded 69% of our bid and will borrow the shortfall in the budget to enable all four projects to be completed.
Why can't you use the bid to reduce parking charges?
This fund is capital and has to be spent on transformational, physical changes to the high streets and immediate surrounds. We are unable to use this money to reduce parking charges.
Why don't you use it to repair the roads?
The money has to be spent in the high street and town centre. We will continue to work with Devon County Council on the maintenance of highway infrastructure.
Can't you spend it in Ilfracombe?
This fund is specifically for Barnstaple High Street. We are committed to understanding what other opportunities might be forthcoming for our smaller towns and are working with partners on these. A further £1.5million has recently been awarded to secure the provision of a watersports centre in Ilfracombe.
Why don't you use the fund to tackle the homelessness issues?
Our housing team are doing remarkable work with the Freedom Centre, the police and other partners to help those that are homeless. We are unable to use the fund for this purpose.
Is the council is lining its pocket and only protecting its own interests?
No! We commissioned consultants to help us work up a future vision for Barnstaple. This identified a number of challenges for the town and key projects that the consultants considered would be transformation. The projects included in the bid formed part of these. They were supported by stakeholders and the public alike in consultation.
There was also strict gateway criteria for projects. They had to be transformational, represent market failure and be deliverable by March 2024.
Can't the fund be used to reduce excessive rents?
No - we are unable to control rents of privately owned properties.
Why don't you use it to provide grants or business loans?
This fund is capital and has to be spent on transformational, physical changes to the high streets and immediate surrounds. We are unable to use the Fund for this purpose.
Why don't you do something with the Oliver buildings?
The Oliver Buildings do not form part of the bid but it is recognised that they are a concern. These are privately owned and have planning permission. We will look to work with the owner to understand how barriers to delivery might be unlocked.
There are empty shops and litter in the high street - can the fund be used to address this?
We have a Vision for Barnstaple, which picks up on all of these points. We are only allowed to spend up to 5% of the fund on ‘beautification’. We firmly believe that these issues need to be addressed and will be working with Barnstaple Town Council and voluntary groups to help – we need to collectively care for our town.
Can you use the fund to address the flooding risk in the town?
We are unable to use the fund for this but we do have a Flood Development Programme for Barnstaple and we are working closely with the Environment Agency to deliver this.