Ambitious vision for reimagined town centre to await new opportunities for funding

NEW funding opportunities are to be sought for an ambitious scheme to renew and regenerate Barrow’s town centre for the future.

A blueprint and bid for £22 million was submitted to the government’s Future High Streets Fund in July.

However, ministers have confirmed Barrow has not been selected to receive a grant from the fund by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Barrow’s plan - designed to boost the borough’s economy, increasing footfall and retaining spend - would have seen:

  • A contemporary new look for Barrow Indoor Market to help independent businesses to thrive and grow.

  • A public reception area, visitor information hub and space to host weddings, public and exhibitions within the Grade II*-listed Barrow Town Hall 

  • The transformation of the town square in front of Barrow Town Hall to high quality public space including a play park and a gardens and events area to host a vibrant calendar of events throughout the year

  • Public realm improvements and the creation of a transport hub to provide better connectivity to the town centre development area

Councillor Ann Thomson, the leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: “It’s incredibly disappointing that the government has opted not to take Barrow’s regeneration scheme forward for funding.

“We knew our town centre needed support before Covid. The pandemic has only amplified that need.

“This would have been a flagship project to encourage residents, families and visitors back to a transformed and future-proofed town centre and to reconnect them with vibrant spaces at the heart of our community.

“This is a set back, certainly, but we remain confident we’ve got the right scheme to provide the happy, thriving town centre we all want for Barrow and its people.”

The Future High Streets Fund was launched in 2018 to offer £1 billion in support of more than 100 town centres.

The fund has this week announced 72 areas across the country will receive a share of £831 million.

Barrow Borough Council’s proposals were subject to an extensive public consultation exercise before a detailed business case was developed to support the bid to the Future High Streets Fund.

Cllr Thomson added: “We will be requesting a dialogue with the government to identify and address any concerns they have with regard to the scheme and to strengthen our case towards securing the funding we need to transform our high street.”