Preston is to receive a bespoke support package, including access to skills and expertise and dedicated high street champions, after successfully applying to be part of Business in the Community’s Healthy High Streets programme.
The scheme aims to increase footfall by 10 per cent, reduce the number of vacant properties by 20 per cent and stimulate job creation in 100 towns over three years.
The programme launched in June last year and is backed by some of the UK’s biggest high street brands, such as founding partners Boots UK, the Co-operative Group, Marks & Spencer and Santander and new partners EE, Exterion Media and Greggs.
And Preston has been unveiled as one of 34 high streets selected for the programme this year, bringing the total number of participants to 67, with a further 33 set to be chosen next year.
The programme has already brought support and resources worth £9million from its corporate partners into the 33 UK high streets chosen last year.
The application to be part of the Healthy High Streets programme was submitted by the Preston City Centre Business Improvement District (BID), which is operated by the Chamber.
BID chairman John Boydell said: “We have achieved huge progress since the BID launched in 2009 but it is important we embrace help from external sources when it is on offer to us.
“It is great that we will be able to work with Healthy High Streets and its many high profile partners as we look to develop Preston City Centre even further.
“We know we have done an excellent job of raising the standards for business owners and visitors to our city centre, but sometimes it takes the neutral eye of an outsider to pick up on the minor details and that is how we will look to utilise our selection for this programme.”
Robin Foale, managing director of Santander Business Banking and chairman of the Healthy High Streets programme, said: “Congratulations to Preston on being chosen to be part of the Healthy High Streets programme.”
Business in the Community’s Peter Donohoe said: “It has been heartening to see first-hand the practical difference that collaborative, business-led action can make on UK high streets in just one year.
“We look forward to working with Preston to create lasting change.”
Others among this year’s Healthy High Streets intake include Derby, Ipswich, Northampton, Truro and several other high profile towns and cities.