Dartmouth is set to receive a package of Government support and cash aimed at helping to breathe new life into the town centre.
The town has been named as a Town Team Partner following a bid headed by the Dartmouth Business Forum and supported by local MP Dr Sarah Wollaston.
As part of the Town Team Partner scheme, Dartmouth will get a £10,000 Government grant along with access to expert advice from the Association of Town Centre Management and help from other similar towns.
The project is aimed at supporting towns like Dartmouth, which narrowly missed out in the competition to become a ‘Portas Pilot’ - where the TV retail guru, Mary Portas, would have helped rejuvenate the main shopping area.
It is hoped that the Town Team Partner fund will help support some of the projects proposed in Dartmouth’s original Portas Pilot application.
Chairman of the Dartmouth Business Forum, Paul Reach, said: “This funding will allow Dartmouth to launch a project to set up a Business Improvement District in the town.
"This will take parts of the Portas plan but can be extended because it will raise more money in total over the 5 years of the project than would have been provided by the original Portas Pilot funding, and will be under greater control of the businesses themselves."
Dr Wollaston said: “The Dartmouth Business Forum will be able to develop a stronger community by employing a more focussed team approach amongst new and existing businesses and residents.
"I look forward to working closely with the Dartmouth Business Forum and supporting them in their efforts to retain our vibrant town centre whilst striving to achieve greater business survival rates and reducing the number of empty shops.”
South Hams District Council will administer the project fund.
The Council’s Member for Dartmouth and Kingswear, Jonathan Hawkins, said: “I am delighted that the Dartmouth BID has been successful. Business is particularly hard at the moment and any support we can get for our local economy is important. I would like to congratulate all who has been involved.”
Dartmouth Town Council is also helping to support the new Town Team project.
Mayor of Dartmouth, Cllr Paul Allen, said: “We warmly welcome the support for the whole of the town, especially all the businesses that will be involved both in the centre of Dartmouth and Townstal. The funding provided by the Town Council to help the bid process is again proof of our commitment to support any potential growth for the benefit of all.”
Other Business Forum members who support the Town Team project are Carole Hart-Fletcher from the Love Dartmouth website and Francesca Johnson, who submitted the original Portas pilot bid.
Carole Hart-Fletcher said: “This is an important result for the businesses of Dartmouth. In these challenging times, the fund will enable Dartmouth business owners to apply their creativity, drive and tenacity to develop a sustainable future with the inspired leadership of Dartmouth Business Forum.”
Francesca Johnson said: “At long last, the business community of Dartmouth is pulling together and there are some really exciting plans ahead that this funding is going to really help us accomplish.”