A major funding bid submitted by Northumberland County Council to transform Blyth town centre has been successful with the Government confirming more than £11m of funding from the Future High Streets Fund (FHSF).
The investment has the potential to unlock a total scheme worth £40m that will lead to Blyth benefiting from new cultural, education and leisure facilities which are designed to massively increase town centre footfall and boost the retail sector. The bid had the support of Blyth Valley MP Ian Levy who wrote to the Government in July to make the case for the funding.
Ian Levy said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Government has committed once again to investing in Blyth Valley. Residents have made it clear in surveys that Blyth town centre is a priority for investment and the County Council have responded to that by leading this funding bid
“When I wrote to the Government in the summer, I highlighted that in my youth Blyth town centre was a dynamic and vibrant place. I am convinced that those days will return, and the Government has shown confidence in that view by approving such a significant sum of money.”
“This is a great example of the levelling up agenda and follows the £1.3m recently allocated to Bowes Street and the surrounding area by the Government and County Council to revitalise the northern area of the town centre.”
Northumberland County Council Leader, Glen Sanderson added: “Blyth is undoubtedly on the up and the Council has worked with local businesses and residents for some time ahead of securing this FHSF investment.
“Much of the extra funding that makes up the £40m package will come from the Council which once again demonstrates our commitment not just to Blyth but also to south east Northumberland”
“We are continuing to work on a number of projects including the re-instatement of the Northumberland Rail Line and improvements to the road network that will make a huge difference to the lives of local people.”
Richard Wearmouth, Cabinet Member for Business and Tourism said: “This is a very welcome decision from the Government and provides us with the opportunity to deliver a scheme that will transform Blyth.
“Previous efforts to improve footfall have not been successful as they concentrated almost exclusively on public realm improvements rather than developing attractions that encourage Blyth residents to use their town centre more and other people from surrounding areas to visit.”
“The three-year programme of work will get underway from April next year and is perfectly timed to help Blyth and the surrounding area recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. These are exciting times for Blyth, and along with the excellent team of officers in the Regeneration Directorate, I cannot wait to get started on the implementation phase.”
Proposed projects include a Cultural Hub on the market place and a town centre hotel to cater for the increased demand from those visiting and working in Blyth. An education Energy Institute is also planned which will cement the town’s reputation as a leader in renewables including offshore wind. The town centre will also become a lot greener through the addition of pocket parks and improvements to pedestrian and cycling links.