BISHOP’S Waltham will receive £10,000 to help regenerate its High Street.
The Government has confirmed the town is one of 326 towns to be awarded the grant.
The money comes in the wake of the report by Mary Portas last year on the state of the UK’s high streets and her recommendation for ‘Town Teams’ to deliver an agreed action plan.
The newly-formed Bishop’s Waltham Town Team’s mission is to ‘sustain and future-proof the existing High Street, whilst developing new markets, uses and businesses for it’.
It is made up of representatives from the parish council, Bishop’s Waltham Society, the town chamber of trade, Bishop’s Waltham in Bloom and Winchester City Council.
In the background is the likely opening in the next year or so of the new Sainsbury’s store at Abbey Mill. Many traders fears it will damage the High Street.
Tony Kippenberger, Chairman of Bishop’s Waltham Society and the new Town Team, said: “Although it was disappointing not to win our initial bids for Portas funding, this grant is great news for Bishop’s Waltham and means that the Town Team can now get down to work on a programme of activities to bring people to the town in increasing numbers. We want to promote our hidden asset, the Bishop’s Palace, as well as our great mix of local shops on the high street.”
Cllr Robert Humby, deputy leader of Winchester City Council, said: “Following community consultation earlier in the year, it was felt that the grant could best be used in employing a town centre manager to help co-ordinate events and marketing.
"Whilst the grant is not enough on its own, it could help to secure contributions from other organisations. As Portfolio Holder for the Economy, I am hoping that the City Council will match fund the grant, and I know the Parish Council is also discussing the possibility.”
Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery added: "This is great news for Bishop's Waltham and I'm sure the money will be put to good use. Such a unique town centre should get as much help as possible to remain commercially vibrant and continue to attract both local people and visitors. This cash can only help.”
The Town Team would like to hear from other councils who would consider jointly funding a Town Centre Manager to be shared with Bishop's Waltham.