Pontefract has been entered into the Great British High Street awards in recognition of the efforts taken to transform the town centre.
Nearly 40 premises in Pontefract have benefitted from £2 million of investment across two initiatives which restores buildings to their former glory, and encourages businesses to revamp their retail units.
The Townscape Heritage Initiative, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Wakefield Council, has seen £1.65m invested in 27 buildings – supporting business owners to undertake significant conservation works.
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Wakefield Council has also invested £350,000 into a Retail Enhancement Fund to support key town centres, Pontefract being one beneficiary and which has helped supported 39 business to improve the appearance of their premises.
Wakefield Council has entered Pontefract for the awards, and Coun Denise Jeffery, cabinet member for economic growth and regeneration, said: “We are very proud of schemes that are helping to support the economy in Pontefract, by encouraging businesses to come to the town and which also attract visitors.
“The work that’s taking place is making a real difference and complements the town’s unique history and heritage.”
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Wakefield Council is currently trialling a new Retail and Residential Enhancement Fund to support businesses in transforming units and renovate upstairs space into quality living space.
Prior to the schemes, Pontefract’s vacancy rates stood at 9.6 per cent but had fallen to just 6.7 per cent in 2017 – well below the national average of 11.1 per cent.
Grants of up to £10,000 are available, with £3,000 available to transform retail units and £7,000 to refurbish space upstairs into residential accommodation.
The ‘Pontefract Vision’, between the council and partners, which includes Pontefract Civic Society, has identified the need to attract restaurant, café and bar premises to help boost the night-time economy.