JUST days remain for organisations to apply to a £500,000 grant scheme designed to develop business premises across St Helens and Earlestown town centres - and drive investment and growth.

St Helens Council says it recognises "that the future of town centres depends on independent businesses" and with that in mind the local authority has allocated half of a £1m Liverpool City Region Town Centre Fund to support local businesses and revitalise the borough’s town centres.

They believe it will help "much-valued local businesses recover from the impacts of the pandemic and to make the most of returning visitors".

The Town Centre Business Adaptation and Improvement Grant Fund has two strands:

Small Grants: up to £5,000 to help with smaller scale projects such as amendments and improvements to existing premises

Medium-Sized Grants: up to £50,000 available for bigger investments, such renovation or new use of commercial space.

Grants can also be used for a whole range of other activities, including shop floor or bar refits to increase capacity; marketing and business planning – as well as contribution to energy and carbon reduction, which is a key priority for the council.

What the council is saying

In a statement the council said: "The latest funding announcement is another boost to the council’s plans to improve the appearance of the borough’s two town centres which have already seen significant investment during the past year, particularly in the Barrow Street and Earle Street areas which have both welcomed a mix of hospitality, commercial and residential development proposals.

"There is also a range of activities planned for the rest of the year, to attract families into St Helens and Earlestown, with festivals, pocket parks and exciting virtual trails planned, making it a fun day out for all.

"In addition, there will be a whole host of other support and changes coming to the town centres.

"Visitors will soon see the introduction of town centres advocates who will be on the ground ready to help customers and businesses make those much-needed links with the community – while town centre marshals will provide additional reassurance for visitors when enjoying the evening economy."

Digital support

The council adds that a whole host of digital and online support will be made available for businesses, enabling them to help the council make high streets digitally enabled.

All of these activities are funded by the Liverpool City Region Town Centre Fund and the Welcome Back Fund.

Councillor Kate Groucutt, cabinet member for business, educations and skills said: “As a council, we’re making great strides with our major regeneration plans for our town centres, recently adopting an Economic Reset and Recovery Plan which will boost our high street recovery – together with the added bonus of successfully receiving £25m in funding to support innovative projects for St Helens town centre’s regeneration and the borough’s economic recovery.

“We want our town centres to be vibrant places that residents and businesses alike can be proud of - that’s why we’re committed to using this funding to support further investment and growth, and I would encourage eligible businesses to apply and let’s build back better after what has been a difficult year.”

When is the deadline?

Businesses have up until 5pm on Tuesday, August 31 2021 to apply which can be done by visiting: https://www.sthelens.gov.uk/coronavirus/businesses-employers-and-jobs/

For more information, email towncentregrant@sthelens.gov.uk