A huge multi-million pound project to transform the heart of Tamworth town centre as part of the Future High Streets Fund is progressing, ready for construction work to begin next year.
Tamworth has been awarded an incredible £21.65m from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund, which will be combined with funding from external partners and Tamworth Borough Council, to represent a total investment of around £40million in our town.
While the individual projects were revealed earlier this year, work has been taking place behind the scenes to finalise details with town centre businesses, landlords and partners, get the delivery team in place and set up governance processes.
This week, members of Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve the terms of reference, setting out how decisions will be made along the way, and the indicative project timeline.
The bid for the funding was put together in partnership with landlords, businesses and organisations, following months of public engagement with residents, detailed research and feasibility studies.
The overall aim is to restore the town centre as the heart of the community and make sure it meets the needs of 21st century shoppers, residents and businesses.
There are five core elements of the project:
- The relocation of Tamworth College, part of South Staffordshire College, to a new building on the site of the Tamworth Co-operative Society department store
- Refurbishment of the locally-listed part of the same building (the Colehill frontages) into a new enterprise centre for small businesses
- Refurbishment and improvements to Middle Entry including a new semi-permanent structure for start-ups and niche businesses
- The transformation of St Editha’s Square into a multi-purpose outdoor space
- An improved entrance between the town centre and the Castle Grounds by enhancing the Castle Gatehouse area and adjoining Market Street properties.
The next phase of work will focus on the pre-planning stage, including specialist surveys, design and acquisition of sites.
As part of an indicative timeline, it is expected that the pre-planning phase, including seeking planning permissions, will continue until spring 2022, with construction work to hopefully get underway from summer next year.
The Future High Streets Fund element of the money has to be spent by April 2024, but work could continue beyond this point using the other funds in the investment pot from partners such as Tamworth Borough Council and South Staffordshire College.
The timeline does allow for flexibility should any issues arise along the way, and the terms of reference being proposed to Cabinet this week are designed to ensure that decisions can made quickly and effectively within a pre-determined framework.
The plans address a number of the top themes put forward by hundreds of local people who took part in the ‘Tamworth What’s Next?’ campaign, back in 2019 which helped inform the funding bid to Government.
More details about the proposals, including FAQs and all news announcements to date, can be read on a dedicated project page at www.tamworth.gov.uk/future-high-street-fund.
Cllr Jeremy Oates, Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said: “This project has been in the making for quite a while now, starting right back in 2019 when we asked people what they wanted for the town centre as part of a wide-scale consultation campaign – Tamworth What’s Next?
“We took the top themes from that, such as helping independent businesses grow, boosting heritage and more events space, and came up with some proposals that we felt would help create the right conditions to bring about those changes.
“We know the high street has to change and adapt, and if it all goes to plan, this project (together with the redevelopment of the Gungate precinct) will deliver on many of the themes Tamworth people told us were most important to them.
“We’ve now got to make it happen and there is plenty of work taking place behind the scenes to get everything in place ready to progress to the development phase, which will hopefully begin next summer.
“The meeting this week is about making sure the right decision-making frameworks are in place to enable the project to progress effectively with the correct governance and without delay.
“We’re really looking forward to transforming Tamworth with a vibrant new town centre that is back at the heart of the community.”
Cabinet will discuss the proposals on Thursday, June 17, from 6pm. Residents can tune in to watch the meeting live online, or catch up later on the council’s YouTube channel ‘TamworthCouncil’. More details, including information on the projects and timelines, can be found in the meeting agenda. Click here to view the Cabinet agenda and meeting link.