Businesses in Towcester can get a share of a new £140,000 improvement fund

Towcester town centre

Towcester town centre

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Town centre businesses in Towcester may get a fresh new look thanks to a new fund for shop front improvements.

South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) agreed the policy to share funding for shop front improvements.

The map of the area of Towcester eligible for the grants

The map of the area of Towcester eligible for the grants

SNC Cabinet approved the Towcester Shop Front Improvement Grants policy which allows businesses or landlords to apply for half the cost of works to their shop fronts.

The £140,000 fund was formed by developer contributions from the Belle Baulk and Aldi developments.

Cllr Peter Rawlinson, SNC’s portfolio holder for finance and procurement said: “Towcester is going through significant changes and the high street needs to be ready to take advantage of opportunities presented by new residents and a growing local market.”

The scheme is open to all freehold owners and leaseholders with a commercial ground floor shop front, facing Towcester high street, as defined by the policy – the map shows the eligible areas of the town centre.

Work that will be eligible for support includes: new shop fronts, visible repairs to shop fronts, re-instatement of original architectural features, re-painting and re-rendering in suitable colours, repair and reinstatement of guttering and down-pipes, repair and replacement of stone or brickwork, re-pointing using traditional materials, pedestrian access improvements, signage, fixed window display equipment, lighting , and the replacement of external shutters (with security grilles, and/or security glazing which allows evening window shopping).

Applicants can also claim against pre-application planning advice, planning fees, professional fees or other information required as part of the planning process.

Funding cannot be used to pay for remedial action to comply with a planning enforcement action.

All work is subject to the relevant permissions being secured, and does not include: improvements to residential property, works undertaken or started prior to the formal grant offer, structural repairs, internal repairs and alterations, external shutters and other security devices, and recoverable VAT.

The deadline for applications is Wednesday November 30 this year and a decision will be made in January 2017.

The grants are discretionary and subject to the availability of funds. The final decision on the level of support will be made by SNC’s Community Funding Panel.

If there is any funding left over after the initial allocations, a second round of applications will be invited and a new deadline announced.

An application can be downloaded from the council’s website at www.southnorthants.gov.uk/7898.htm. Alternatively, electronic copies are available by emailing Katie.arnold@southnorthants.gov.uk or by calling 01327 322216.

Proposals for Brackley are being developed as a separate scheme from different funding sources.