£5.8m of funding to help implement ambitious plans to transform Loftus High Street have been approved as part of the government’s flagship Future High Street Fund.
Redcar and Cleveland Council submitted a bid last year for a total of £8.49m from the fund and has been successful in securing £5.8m which, when added to the £3m from the Tees Valley Combined Authority, and £575,000 from the council provides investment of £9.375m for the town.
Highlights of the revised plans include:
• Relocating Loftus Library to create a new community hub linked to the High Street;
• Rejuvenating Coronation Park with improved lighting and landscaping;
• Creating a new Skills, Training and Employment Hub;
• Creating more quality housing and improving key gateways;
• Creating new visitor accommodation and commercial uses in empty buildings;
• Creating a cultural hub in a disused building;
• Improving key shop fronts in the heart of the town;
• Improving the town’s appearance with gateways, paths, landscaping, lighting and paving.
Work on the wider Loftus masterplan is already under way with a new car park due for completion this month and other work due to start over the summer.
The first scheme from the Future High Street Fund is due to start later this year with improvements to the roads in the town.
Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council, Cllr Mary Lanigan, said: “Whilst we were disappointed that we didn’t receive the full amount of funding from government we have not wasted any time and reviewed and revised our plans to ensure we can deliver as much for Loftus as possible to attract more people to visit and stay in the area, creating jobs for local people and helping our businesses thrive.
“The council has been busy laying the foundations for the transformation and last year a consultation into the plans found that 87% of people who responded supported our ambition to rejuvenate the town.
“This investment will help build upon the commitment the council has already shown in the town with the purchase of the former Barclays Bank building and the former United Reformed Church last year.
“It is now time to turn our ambition into reality and transform Loftus into a modern market town providing facilities and attractions for residents and a memorable destination for our visitors.”
Cllr Wayne Davies, cabinet member for economic development at the council, said: “It is fantastic news that Loftus will receive this much-needed investment even if it isn’t for as much as we had hoped for.
“This funding along with the funding from the Tees Valley Combined Authority and the Council means we have a pot of over £9.3m to invest in the town.
“I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the hard work of the Loftus Regeneration Group, which consists of local community leaders, businesses, residents and stakeholders, and the Chair, Marshall Best.
“There is a lot of positivity in the town about the plans and we are committed to continue to work closely with the community as we bring these plans to reality.”
Marshall Best, chair of the Loftus Regeneration Group, added: “Having received confirmation on Government funding enabling this transformational step forward for Loftus, we are delighted that delivery of the approved scheme is now underway.
“We express our sincere appreciation and thanks to community leaders and volunteers for their valued support and collective contribution to this successful result.”