Shopfront Improvement Scheme

Great Yarmouth Borough Council announces shopfront improvement scheme to boost town centre

BUSINESSES and social enterprises in Great Yarmouth town centre can apply for grants to improve their frontages as part of efforts by the borough council to make the central area more attractive to shoppers, residents and investors.

 Under the Town Centre Shopfront Improvement Scheme, eligible applicants can ask for grants of up to £3,000 each to help fund shopfront renovation, decoration, new signage and/or replacement of historic features including lighting. Businesses must cover 25 per cent of the total cost themselves.

The new scheme was agreed yesterday by the economic development committee, and initially £60,000 is being made available through the project, part of the borough council's wider Town Centre Initiative, which aims to boost town centre footfall, trade and the local economy.

The shopfront scheme aims to:

  • Improve business frontages, including shops, commercial businesses and social enterprises.
  • Enhance the appearance and appeal of the town centre to visitors, customers and local residents.
  • Preserve and enhance the special character of the conservation area, its listed buildings and other buildings of public importance.
  • Assist towards encouraging further inward investment and stimulate business and consumer confidence.

Applications open on December 1 and close on March 31, 2018, or sooner if funding is spent before this date. Completed applications will be assessed on their individual merits by a cross-party sub-group of the economic development committee.

If an application is approved, the business will have six months to complete the works and submit a claim form, with payments made only once works are complete. Before starting work, applicants must have obtained the relevant permissions, including any planning permission and landlord permission required. 

All applicants, whether successful or not, will be offered free business guidance, and advice on marketing, branding and visual merchandising, via enterpriseGY, the borough council's business support service.

Cllr Barry Coleman, the committee's chairman, said: "The borough council launched the Town Centre Initiative last year in response to a major borough-wide consultation, which identified Great Yarmouth town centre, regeneration and the economy as top public priorities.

"Already we have brought some key improvements to this space of cultural and economic importance to the whole borough, including better marketing, more vibrant events and visual enhancements, with plans to consult early in 2017 on a draft Town Centre Masterplan. 

"The Shopfront Improvement Scheme incentivises businesses to invest now in their shopfronts, and we hope to see lots of well thought-out applications. The grant-funding offered by the borough council aims to act as a catalyst for real improvements and further private sector investment to help grow the economy, which will benefit everyone.    

"In the era of online shopping and out-of-town malls, town centres need to ensure they offer a distinctive and positive experience that gives people a special reason to continue visiting and investing their time and money there. And improving shopfronts, in some cases restoring their historic character, is a great way to do that."

Jonathan Newman, town centre manager, said: "This is a unique opportunity for businesses in Great Yarmouth town centre to take stock of the image that their existing shopfront presents to potential customers and take advantage of the borough council's funding scheme to upgrade and refresh that image to potentially attract additional footfall into their premises whilst enhancing the overall appeal of the town centre."

Application forms, and a map showing the area covered by the scheme, are available by visiting emailing or calling enterpriseGY on 0800 458 0146.

Business Premises Renovation Allowance

Separately, Great Yarmouth Borough Council is reminding owners of qualifying unused business premises that they have until April 2017 to apply to HM Revenue and Customs for a Business Premises Renovation Allowance (BPRA). 

BPRA is a 100 per cent tax allowance for certain spending when you are converting or renovating unused qualifying business premises in a disadvantaged area. Great Yarmouth is able to benefit from the scheme, due to its Assisted Area Status.