REGENERATION schemes aimed at breathing new life into ailing high streets in two Northumberland towns are set to be given a major funding boost.
Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and Berwick are among 27 towns chosen as the first guinea pigs in a nationwide campaign inspired by retail guru Mary Portas.
Four months ago it was revealed that Newbiggin was one of the first 12 areas of the country selected to be Portas Pilots – with the aim of turning local regeneration ideas into reality. Two months later Berwick was among 15 towns chosen in the second round of pilots.
Newbiggin has already secured Government funding of £94,000 – and a contribution of £15,000 from the local town council – to help provide a boost for its flagging shopping centre.
Berwick has been awarded £100,000 in Government funding to pay for improvements to the town centre Marygate area, where twice-weekly markets are held, and spruce up the high street’s empty shop fronts.
Now both towns are set to have their Portas finances doubled, with match funding of £100,000 from Northumberland County Council aimed at ensuring the pilots are a success.
The new money is coming from a separate Government funding programme, handled by the county council, which provides assistance to deprived coastal communities.
It will be used in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea to help fund initiatives such as a road train attraction for visitors and locals, and work to re-open empty shop units.
Yesterday Alan Thompson, county councillor for Newbiggin, said: “The Portas Pilot will give Newbiggin a chance to step into the limelight once again, attracting people from across Northumberland and from outside the county to come and see our wonderful town.
“We are one of the first 12 towns in the country being given this opportunity, and the extra funding being from the county council gives a major boost to the resources available to add to the revitalisation of our town centre.
“It is very important that both the county and town councils work closely with the Portas Pilot team to deliver things that will make Newbiggin more attractive to both visitors and local people.”
A county council spokeswoman confirmed the additional funding for Newbiggin, and added: “We are looking to enable the same level of support to be provided to Berwick, matching grants provided through the Portas Pilot.”