Northampton's bid for a £25 million Government grant to transform the town centre has got through the first round.
The Government has today announced that Northampton has been shortlisted to submit a detailed bid for support from its Future High Streets Fund.
In March, the collection of town leaders running the bid, Northampton Forward, submitted an expression of interest to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, one of 300 submissions from across the country.
Following several months of sifting, Northampton’s proposal - which includes plans for a food hall in Market Square - was chosen as one of those to be worked up in greater detail.
The Government will also provide a resource funding grant to enable this work, details of which are expected in the days to come.
A detailed bid will need to be submitted by the end of the year and an announcement on successful projects is expected to be made sometime next summer.
Leader of Northampton Borough Council and chair of the Northampton Forward board, Councillor Jonathan Nunn, said: “Town centres are changing dramatically across the country, with the growth of online and out-of-town shopping, but in Northampton we are on the front foot because we have so many great assets in our town to respond to current changes.
"These include our cultural offer, our heritage, and our wonderful independent shops to name just a few things.
“We also have so many people committed to making the town the best it can be including the local councils, businesses, SEMLEP, the university, community groups, Northamptonshire Police and the many members of the public who have recently engaged with the consultation on plans for the future of the town centre, all of whom have played a part in this grant bidding process.
“So it’s my view that the Government has recognised that Northampton needs some support, but that it has huge potential to deliver re-invention, and that everybody here is seriously committed to making it a really great place.”
Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer said: "The town centre and its regeneration has been one of my main priorities since the people of Northampton South elected me as their MP and so I am delighted to hear that Northampton has been successful in the first stage of securing funding for the Government's Future High Street Fund.
"Minister Jake Berry has described the Northampton Forward bid as one of the very best his Department has received.
"I have made the case for Northampton relentlessly at Westminster and met regularly with the key partners in Northampton Forward ever since it was formed. They will have my complete support as we move into the next stage of the bidding process."
The Government is making a total of £620 million available and individual bids seeking up to £25 million are invited.
Northampton Forward has just completed a consultation on its outline plans for the town centre, attracting hundreds of responses.
Planning experts, 5plus Architects, were commissioned to compile proposals for five key areas:
Marefair and Gold Street
Fish Street and St Giles Street
These included general suggestions of how each area might be regenerated and how each approach would form part of a wider strategy for the town.
Northampton Forward will now await further details from the Government on how it can best devise and present a detailed bid in order to maximise its chance of success.