The government has revealed the first 14 high streets across England to benefit from a task force that aims to revitalise town centres.
Places taking part in the pilot will benefit from bespoke support and guidance from the new High Streets Task Force, which was announced by the government last summer in response to the recommendations of an expert panel chaired by Sir John Timpson.
The High Streets Task Force will provide face-to-face support, access to research, online training and local footfall data in a bid to give businesses the necessary tools to transform local town centres.
The first 14 of 20 pilot areas are: Swinton town centre, Thornton Heath, Cheadle, Aldershot, Stirchley, Accrington, Kendal, Friargate, Coventry, Hartlepool, Ellesmere Port, West Bromwich, Huyton and Withington.
The task force brings together a range of expert groups on reinventing and restructuring places, including the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Design Council.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “This government is investing £3.6bn in our towns, including £1bn to help our high streets to adapt and evolve while remaining vibrant and safe places at the heart of our communities. The Task Force will provide the tools they need to get the best advice possible and a dashboard of key local data.”
Minister for the Northern Powerhouse Jake Berry added: “Every place has its own unique strengths and challenges but all our town centres and high streets have one thing in common – they are the lifeblood of communities.”
The government is also seeking views on whether an online register of commercial properties would make it easier to bring empty shops back into use.