August 7, 2020 @ 13:51 by Alison Cowie
A major funding bid that could unlock up to £40m investment to transform Blyth town centre has been submitted to Government.
Blyth is one of 50 towns shortlisted to benefit from the Government’s £1 billion Future High Streets Fund (FHSF), and the County Council has been working as part of the Blyth Town Forum over the last year with public, private and community sector partners to back the ‘Energising Blyth’ vision.
The forum has engaged local users of the town centre with consultation carried out with businesses, the local community and schools including two drop-in events in the town centre which attracted thousands of visitors.
A full business case for the scheme has now been submitted to Government and, subject to approval, the FHSF programme would be delivered over three years from April 2021. The town is also set to benefit from the national Town Fund with further details on this to be unveiled later in 2020.
If funding is approved it will support a programme that delivers a revitalised Blyth Market Place and Bridge Street with new culture and leisure facilities in the heart of the town centre.
The town’s established reputation as a centre for the Energy and offshore wind industry will be bolstered by the development of a new research and education Energy Institute.
The programme also includes projects that focus on improving green space, cycling and walking improvements to better connect the town centre to the quayside.
Later this year there will be further detailed engagement with the community, businesses and partners on the town-wide Energising Blyth programme including plans for the town centre and wider opportunities through the Town Deal to help Blyth develop in the future.
Councillor Richard Wearmouth, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “I’m delighted we’ve reached this key milestone on what is a hugely ambitious programme to transform the town centre.
“We want to attract more people to the town centre and help the town recover from the impact of Covid19. Whether that’s to live, work or visit, the Future High Streets Fund will be a key driver to do this.
“The bid is the culmination of many months of work from a range of partners and we all hope for positive news later this year.”