Future High Streets Fund update as plans progress

15.09.21

Photograph of the Nationwide building in TamworthCouncillors will this week receive an update on how work is progressing on the Future High Streets Fund - a huge multi-million pound project to transform the heart of Tamworth town centre.

The update will be given to members of the Infrastructure, Safety and Growth Scrutiny Committee at a meeting on Wednesday, September 15, at 6pm. Members of the public can tune in to the meeting live via the ‘TamworthCouncil’ channel on YouTube.

Tamworth has been awarded £21.65m from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund, which will be combined with funding from external partners and Tamworth Borough Council, to represent a total investment of around £40million in our town.

Work is continuing behind the scenes to finalise details on the various projects with town centre businesses, landlords and partners, get the delivery team in place and set up governance processes.

In June, members of the council’s Cabinet approved the terms of reference for how decisions will be made along the way, as well as an indicative project timeline. This included ensuring that regular updates are provided to the Infrastructure, Safety and Growth Scrutiny Committee.

The overall aim of the Future High Streets Fund project is to restore the town centre as the heart of the community and make sure it meets the needs of 21st century shoppers, residents and businesses.

There are five core elements of the project:

  • The relocation of Tamworth College, part of South Staffordshire College, to a new building on the site of the Tamworth Co-operative Society department store
  • Refurbishment of the locally-listed part of the same building (the Colehill frontages) into a new enterprise centre for small businesses
  • Refurbishment and improvements to Middle Entry including a new semi-permanent structure for start-ups and niche businesses
  • The transformation of St Editha’s Square into a multi-purpose outdoor space
  • An improved entrance between the town centre and the Castle Grounds by enhancing the Castle Gatehouse area and adjoining Market Street properties.

Councillors on the Infrastructure, Safety and Growth Scrutiny Committee will this week hear about how work is progressing in each of those project areas.

Key milestones include the imminent appointment of a lead consultant, the completion of various surveys and utilities mapping of the buildings and areas impacted and progress in the creation of legal agreements between the various landowners and partners involved.

Significantly, agreement has been reached with Nationwide Building Society to move across the road into the former Peel Café. The Tamworth Borough Council-owned building is currently vacant. This paves the way for redevelopment of the Castle Gateway to open up the space between the Castle Grounds.

Mandy Beech, Branch Director at Nationwide, said: “We’ve been working with the council on their plans and we’re delighted to have found a new location for Nationwide to continue serving its members in Tamworth. We’re now progressing with our plans for the new branch and we’ll keep our members updated as this work develops.”

The bid to the Future High Streets Fund was put together in partnership with landlords, businesses and organisations, following months of public engagement with residents, detailed research and feasibility studies.

The plans address a number of the top themes put forward by hundreds of local people who took part in the ‘Tamworth What’s Next?’ campaign, back in 2019 which helped inform the funding bid to Government.

The current phase of work is focusing on the pre-planning stage, including specialist surveys, design and acquisition of sites.

As part of an indicative timeline, it is expected that the pre-planning phase, including seeking planning permissions, will continue until spring 2022, with construction work to hopefully get underway towards the end of next year.

More details about the proposals, including FAQs and all news announcements to date, can be read on our dedicated Future High Streets Fund project page.

Cllr Jeremy Oates, Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said: “The project is continuing at pace behind the scenes to get everything ready to progress to the development phase next year. The agreement with Nationwide to move to the currently vacant Peel Café is a key part of the puzzle in our plans for opening up the bridge into the Castle Grounds and the adjoining listed properties in Market Street.

“This will really improve the gateway between the Castle Grounds and the town centre and enable us to make the most of our historic buildings in that part of the town.

“We know the high street has to change and adapt, and if it all goes to plan, this project (together with the redevelopment of the Gungate precinct) will deliver on many of the themes Tamworth people told us were most important to them.

“We’re really looking forward to transforming Tamworth with a vibrant new town centre that is back at the heart of the community.”

The agenda for this week’s scrutiny meeting, together with a link to watch live, is available on the Council Meetings section of our website.