Town to bid for Portas money

By Ian Dipple 17/02 Updated: 17/02 13:42

RETAIL guru Mary Portas could be called in to help regenerate Redditch's high street.

Redditch Town Centre Partnership is bidding to become one of 12 'Portas Pilots' under a government backed scheme which will see successful entries get a share of a £1million pot to progress projects, as well as support from Local Government minister Grant Shapps, Whitehall and Ms Portas herself.

The Government is looking for schemes which build on the Portas review, particularly a recommendation to create Town Teams - made up of the council, local landlords, shopkeepers and MP - to drive forward change.

The full details of the Redditch bid are still to be decided and approved ahead of the deadline at the end of next month but one of the options is to revive some of the smaller projects outlined in the Town Centre Strategy such as creating more public spaces for events, making the town centre more visually appealing, making it more pedestrian friendly and a subsidy scheme to encourage more cafés and restaurants into the town centre.

Another possibility would be to look at turning the former market site at the back of Debenham's into a public events space.

Ros Sidaway, chairman of Redditch Town Centre Partnership, told the Standard: "We do have a head start because we have the town centre strategy and so it is an opportunity to advance one or two of the objectives in the report. A café culture and vibrant night time economy is something we want to encourage and it is all part of the mix."

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