£12.5m for Kingswood regeneration vision

From left, council leader Toby Savage, MP Chris Skidmore & WECA Mayor Tim Bowles

A multi-million-pound bid to Government to secure investment for Kingswood town centre has been successful, it has been announced today.

Kingswood is one of 72 high streets across England that will benefit from the Future High Streets Fund.

A total of 15 towns and cities are to receive all the money they bid for, totalling £255m. Kingswood is one of another 57 areas to have received provisional funding offers worth a combined £576m. The Department of Housing, Communities & Local Government says it will be working with them to finalise their proposals.

Kingswood’s offer is £12,555,464 and will provide funding to deliver an ambitious range of projects as part of the ongoing regeneration of Kingswood being led by South Gloucestershire Council.

Among the projects envisaged in the original bid submitted to Government are the pedestrianisation of Regent Street and investment into the creation of a new public open space, ushering opportunities for markets, performance arts and cultural events. The funding will also enable traffic re-routing and promote cycling, walking and access to nearby green spaces and Kingswood’s heritage sites.

The funding will also ensure the full restoration of the historic Whitfield Tabernacle which, having lain derelict for three decades, will become a cultural and community venue providing a new offer in family and evening entertainment for Kingswood.

Finally, it will allow the council to pursue investment into property and commercial premises that will directly contribute to the town centre regeneration at a time when the market faces considerable challenges.

Supporting the bid was a business case informed by two public engagement exercises, the most recent of which took place between May and June this year. The engagement work has played a major part in developing a masterplan for Kingswood which the council aims to take to wider public consultation in the coming year.

Today Toby Savage, leader of Conservative-controlled South Gloucestershire Council, said the success of the bid represents “an unprecedented scale of investment in Kingswood town centre and an extremely exciting opportunity for the community”.

“It is timely in so many ways as we do everything we possibly can to support our town centres face the extreme challenges of declining high street retail, internet shopping boom and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have been delighted to see urgent stabilisation works already happening to the tabernacle alongside the Masters Church redevelopment and I am extremely excited about the opportunities we have to lead regeneration by acquiring empty and underused properties at a time where the private sector is not in a place to do so. I hope we can extend and apply our success in securing this scale of funding and this approach to masterplanning to support our other town centres.”

Kingswood’s regeneration has already been backed by substantial investment from Mayor Tim Bowles and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) through the Love our High Streets Initiative in 2018. Today West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “It is fantastic that the council has been able to use the significant investment from the Combined Authority towards initiating Kingswood’s regeneration and leveraging much greater investment from Government.”

And Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore added: “I am absolutely delighted to see the Government back our vision for Kingswood High Street by approving our bid and am pleased to have lobbied ministers alongside the council and WECA for its success on behalf of Kingswood residents.”

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