St Neots bids for �100,000 Mary Portas cash

ST NEOTS is bidding for �100,000 to help regenerate the town centre.

The town is making an application to become a Portas Pilot Town – a scheme devised by retail guru Mary Portas and the Government to invest �1million to run regeneration projects at 12 locations across the country.

The deadline for applications is the end of March, but a team is being put together which will create a bid, including a vdieo outlining the need for investment in St Neots.

Town centre manager, Katie Hollingworth, told The Hunts Post: “As the largest and fastest growing town in Cambridgeshire, St Neots is quickly outgrowing its existing town centre facilities.

“There is a widening recognition of the need for the town centre to evolve and develop in order to ensure that the town meets the demands of its rapidly expanding population.”

To get the ball rolling, St Neots Town Council will set up a ‘Town Team’ which will include business leaders and key stakeholders who, if successful, would work with Housing Minister Grant Shapps, Whitehall and Mary Portas on plans to transform the high street.

Sue Bedlow, economic development manager for Huntingdonshire District Council, said: “We’re leading this process in conjunction with St Neots Town Council because we’re convinced this is the way forward.

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“St Neots desperately needs to keep pace with growing expansion and irrespective of whether the application is a success, this process will allow us to focus much-needed attention on the town.”

If successful, the money would allow the town to commission an in-depth feasibility study into the town centre’s business needs, with emphasis on long-standing issues such as car parking, traffic management, night time economy and the size of retail units.

Ms Hollingworth added: “The funds would also provide us with resources to ultimately ensure success. St Neots already has some well-established networks in place, but more resources are needed to provide the town with the means to move forward.”

As part of the application bid, the town council will upload a video to YouTube highlighting the need for the grant and it is hoped that performance groups and businesses will play a role in the film.