Plans for £1.5m fund to improve Stowmarket town centre announced | News

Plans for £1.5m fund to improve Stowmarket town centre announced | News

“We want to do everything we can to make the city centre a lively place”

Author: Sian RochePublished 1 day ago

A £1.5 million fund is to be set up to beautify Stowmarket town centre.

Mid Suffolk District Council says the Stowmarket Town Centre Gateway Fund is made possible by income from its investment in the Gateway 14 business park on the outskirts of the town.

Once the project is operational, the first step will be to work with landlords to repurpose under-used properties, including vacant shops, the local authority said.

It is said this could mean the council acquiring buildings, renting them on a short-term basis or helping to refurbish them.

Potential tenants seeking a presence in the city centre would then be assisted in their site search – opening the door for new shops, pop-ups and other businesses looking to open their first store or premises.

The uses supported include arts and cultural experiences, tourism, community activities, retail, small business workspaces, leisure, food and drink, and activities that bring something new to the city.

A report outlining the proposals will be presented to Mid Suffolk District Council’s cabinet on 15 July.

If the new fund is approved, it will be presented to the full council for approval later this month.

“We want to do everything we can to make the city centre a lively place”

Councillor Richard Winch, Cabinet Member for Housing and Property, said: “We are proud of Stowmarket and want to do everything we can to help the town centre thrive. It is the beating heart of our community and important for the whole borough – not just the town itself.”

“This fund offers a fantastic opportunity to do something new and stimulate investment.”

The vacancy rate on the city’s main shopping streets is 8%, above the East of England average of 12.5%.

Councillor Winch added: “All town centres are facing challenges, including the huge growth of online shopping, and need to reinvent themselves.

“No single organisation has all the answers, but by working with partners in Stowmarket we are confident we can help create exciting new opportunities that support a sustainable and vibrant future.”

Mid Suffolk will work with partners including Stowmarket Town Council, private owners, businesses and potential residents to find long-term solutions.

The aim of the initiative is to bring new attractions to the city centre, create a more sustainable mixed use in the future and provide additional reasons to visit.

Cllr Teresa Davis, Cabinet Member for Thriving Communities, said: “Stowmarket is growing well and, given time, the right ingredients can further improve it as a place to live, work and visit. This £1.5 million fund is just one of those ingredients and I look forward to seeing the impact it can have.”

“We want to increase the opportunities for innovation and creativity”

Cllr Colin Lay, Lead Member for Stowmarket, added: “We want to increase the opportunities for innovation and creativity. Things like arts and culture experiences, pop-ups, shop front improvements, promoting local business concepts and the evening economy. We want to see uses that complement what the town already offers.”

All profits from the city centre initiative would be reinvested in the programme.

Gate 14

The funding would, as mentioned above, come from the revenue the municipality receives from its investment in the Gateway 14 business park being built on the outskirts of Stowmarket.

More than 1,600 jobs have already been created there and further new construction projects are planned – including the municipality’s own skills and innovation centre worth £18 million.

Cllr Winch said: “This once again demonstrates the positive impact of Gateway 14. Not only does it create skilled jobs and new opportunities on the business park itself, but it also generates significant revenue that can be reinvested in Stowmarket.”

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