Scheme launched to help reduce empty premises in Crewe town centre
Firms can apply for funding of up to £30,000
The owners of a new salon in Crewe town centre say they ‘wouldn’t be where we are now’ without the support of a new grant scheme – as Cheshire East Council invites businesses and organisations to apply for funding of up to £30,000.
The ‘Repurposing our high streets’ scheme aims to reduce the number of empty shops in Crewe town centre by supporting eligible businesses to take on leases, with grants available to contribute towards the initial costs of fitting the properties out and buying essential equipment.
Led by Cheshire East Council and overseen by Crewe Town Board, the scheme also offers tailored business support and is one of nine projects being supported by the government’s Towns Fund and Crewe’s allocation of up to £22.9m of funding.
Organisations are now being encouraged to find out if they are eligible to apply to the scheme, with businesses such as newly-opened XO Hair & Beauty Academy, in Market Street, already benefitting.
Councillor Nick Mannion, vice chair of Cheshire East Council’s economy and growth committee, said: “As well as reducing the number of empty premises in the town centre, this project will also help to increase footfall and strengthen the mix of businesses Crewe’s home to.
“We expect that the project will support more than 50 businesses through grants and business support, as well as support the creation of more than 60 jobs.
“Whether it’s a business looking to open their first shop, expand, or find a new base, or a community enterprise or charity wanting the benefit of a spot in the heart of the town centre, we are really keen to speak to them about the support on offer.
“While premises are standing empty, we’ve also got plans to improve how they look so that we can inject vibrancy back into the town centre and increase their appeal to potential occupiers.”
The council is offering capital grants of up to £30,000 (depending on the length of the lease or licence) to businesses or organisations that take up leases on empty commercial premises in the town centre.
Grants can support either established organisations, or those who have just started up or are about to start up.
Business partners Xavana Reddock and Zoe Hudson, of newly-opened XO Hair & Beauty Academy in Market Street, are among the first to have received a grant and say it has given them the opportunity to branch out by themselves.
Xavana, 31, said: “I would recommend very highly that anyone who is thinking of applying for a Repurposing our High Streets grant should go ahead and do it. Without the grant we wouldn’t be where we are now.
“We’ve seen the positive changes that are happening around Crewe and hope that by others gaining access to these grants that the positive feeling of a growing business community just keeps increasing. We’re very happy to be a part of that.”
Zoe, 34, added: “Xavana and I have a strong bond and clear understanding of where we want to go with the salon – but getting your own space and setting a business up is tough, so the grant has been our lifeblood.
“I’ve dreamt of doing this since I was a little girl just starting up in my auntie’s salon. I’ve been hairdressing for 16 years and having my own place has always been the ambition. Thanks to the grant, we’ve achieved that now.”
Doug Kinsman, chair of Crewe Town Board, said: “It is brilliant to hear how Xavana and Zoe have been able to use this grant to fulfil a dream they have held for many years, and I hope it will serve to inspire others to find out if they too could be eligible to apply.
“No-one likes to see shops standing empty; so, to see them being filled with new and growing businesses that will inject vibrancy into the town centre and entice more people in is fantastic.”
Through the scheme, property owners with empty premises can also get support to make their shop windows more attractive to potential tenants, such as through the installation of vinyl or hoardings.
To read more from Xavana and Zoe and for information about how to apply for the scheme, including the eligibility criteria, visit: cheshireeast.gov.uk/crewehighstreets