Bold move to boost £25m scheme
SOUTH Gloucestershire Council has snapped up vacant property in the centre of Kingswood to help bring about a £25million transformation of the high street.
But as yet it has not been disclosed which buildings have been bought – or what will be done with them.
The council says describes the purchase as providing “significant new assets”.
The deal came to light as cabinet members approved £5 million funding for the revitalisation of the high street.
This sum comes on top of £12.5million from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund announced on Boxing Day and £7.5million match funding from the West of England Combined Authority committee on Friday, January 29.
The council's masterplan includes the pedestrianisation of Regent Street and a new public open space for markets, performance arts and cultural events.
The unprecedented investment in the area will also see traffic rerouted and cycling and walking promoted with access to nearby green spaces and heritage sites.
It will mean the full restoration of the derelict Grade I-listed Whitfield Tabernacle into a cultural and community venue providing family and evening entertainment.
Labour Cllr Kim Scudamore said residents would appreciate the regeneration funding and vision but too much attention had been given to the tabernacle, which was only one element.
“The other elements, which I appreciate we are not in a position to discuss in much detail at this stage, are crucial and I’m sure much more difficult to progress,” he said.
“Unfortunately, Kingswood has a few landlords who seem reluctant to take responsibility for the upkeep of their property and don’t seem to care about the impact that their deteriorating buildings can have on the entire area.”
But Conservative cabinet member Cllr Steve Reade said: “This is an exciting time for Kingswood and its residents and I’m looking forward to unveiling future plans soon. There will be more consultation so there will be more opportunity for the public to give its viewpoint.”
Cabinet member Cllr Ben Burton said the aim of buying and repurposing vacant buildings was to ensure the high street remained a relevant destination.