Town Centre help

Following a range of successful town centre initiatives last year, Scottish Borders Council has agreed to extend the Shop Front Improvement Grant Scheme for 2011.

A further £60,000 of funds will be available for grant support towards repairs and enhancement works to targeted shop fronts in town centres in the Borders.

Last year’s scheme supported 64 applications to improve town centre properties and shop fronts.

Approved works varied from the total restoration of traditional, high street shops, to the repainting of frontages of empty stores.

Mike Allan from the Border Angling Centre, High Street, Galashiels, who received grant funding commented: “My shop front was looking a bit tatty and although I wanted a new sign and a paint job, it was down a bit on my list of priorities due to a couple of fairly poor trading years. The council’s Shop Front Scheme enabled me to have the work carried out at minimal cost and has improved the appearance of the shop front greatly.”

This year’s scheme will specifically prioritise empty town centre properties and buildings in prominent locations. Owners and/or agents of empty properties are encouraged to apply.

Grants of up to 80% of a project’s eligible costs will be available - up to a maximum of £3,000 per property.

The scheme will support capital works to rejuvenate and refurbish across a range of commercial premises such as retail outlets, cafes/restaurants, pubs, professional services, tourism and leisure facilities. Eligible costs include small scale works (exterior cleaning, painting and minor repairs) to major works such as a complete frontage replacement.

There are two funding deadlines: Friday, June 17, 2011 and Friday, September 2, 2011.

Councillor Vicky Davidson, executive member for economic development said: “It’s in the interest of all town centre businesses that our high streets are attractive, shopping environments which look as if shop-keepers have made an effort.

“There was a high level of demand for this grant last year with some very good results but there are still one or two shops in every town which need to be done up to be re-let or could do with some TLC.

“We will be particularly pleased to receive applications from owners of shops which at present are letting down the rest of the street as we understand that there can be a variety of reasons why this situation may occur.

“I hope town centre businesses will take this unique opportunity to upgrade their shop fronts and ultimately provide as attractive a shopping environment as possible.”