Uttlesford to receive �100,000 under Portas plan

MINISTERS today unveiled a new �10million High Street Innovation Fund to help bring empty shops back into use – with Uttlesford among the areas set to benefit.

The fund was announced as part of the Government’s initial response to last December’s report by retail guru Mary Portas on ways to revitalise of Britain’s recession-hit high streets,

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said today that the Government was accepting “virtually all” of Ms Portas’s 28 recommendations, and was going further with a raft of schemes including the High Street Innovation Fund, a National Markets Day and a �500,000 fund for Business Improvement Districts to help town centres access loans.

Uttlesford will receive �100,000 from the innovation fund.

Among the recommendations set out by Ms Portas were planning changes to aid town centres, free parking and annual market days, accompanied by a warning that high streets could “disappear forever” without urgent action.

Mr Shapps said: “Today I’m accepting virtually all of the recommendations from Mary Portas’s review but I’m also going that one step further, offering a ‘Portas Plus’ deal with a range of measures designed to help local people turn their high streets into the beating hearts of their communities once again.

“Mary Portas’s review made crystal clear the stark challenge our high streets face. With internet shopping and out-of-town centres here to stay, they must offer something new if they are to entice visitors back.

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“Her report has provided the catalyst for change that many towns have been craving. I now want to see people coming together to form their own town teams and turning their creative ideas into reality to ensure their high streets thrive long into the future.”