Towns including Bedford, Croydon and Margate have been selected to be the first Portas Pilots, with the government also announcing a second round for unsuccessful applicants.
Across the country 12 town centres have been chosen and will test out the measures in Mary Portas’ High Street Review as they attempt to revive their high streets.
The 12 towns include Bedford, Croydon, Dartford, Bedminster, Liskeard, Market Rasen, Margate, Nelson, Newbiggin by the Sea, Stockport, Stockton on Tees and Wolverhampton.
Local Government minister Grant Shapps announced the names of the towns, which will each receive a portion of the £1.2m funds available as well as a tailored package of support from Shapps and Portas.
Over 370 applications to be Portas Pilots were received with the quality of bids so high that a second round has been announced. The second round will add a further 15 additional pilots, which will be announced by the end of July.
Unsuccessful applicants need not reapply, although they are allowed to alter their bids if they wish and re-submit by June 30.
Shapps said: “The best local high streets offer more than simply shopping – they are the beating heart of their neighbourhoods: places to meet, work, relax and come together as a community. It’s why this competition to become a Portas Pilot has captured the imagination of the nation, with communities across the country uniting to support their high streets.
He added: “The quality and sheer number of applications has been overwhelming – 12 winning bids now have the chance receive expert advice and financial support, but I believe more towns deserve to be selected.”
Portas said: “I’ve been deeply touched by both the quality and creativity of the bids and the momentum Britain’s first town teams have generated in just a few short weeks.”
She added: “It is now clearer to me than ever that Britain wants its town centres revitalised and the energy and accountability for that needs to rest with the people who live and do business there.”
Research from the Local Data Company around the Portas Pilot towns has revealed independents are greater in number than multiples across the 12 towns selected for the Pilot scheme. Take a closer look here.