Lowestoft: Town boosted by Portas scheme cash

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the announcement that Lowestoft has been selected in the second round of shopping guru Mary Portas’ ‘Portas Pilot’ scheme to revive Britain’s town centres

The seaside town will be given up to �100,000 to rejuvenate its high street shopping after it was selected. It will become one of 27 communities earmarked for the project following the government’s decision to launch a second wave of pilot towns.

Lowestoft beat about 400 communities nationwide to secure ‘Portas Pilot’ status which provides a slice of �1.5m, and a chance to test out Ms Portas’s ideas for regeneration.

The scheme was set up to help high streets amid fierce competition from internet shopping and out-of-town shopping centres.

Emma King, Lowestoft’s town centre manager, told of her joy at the successful bid which will include a business mentoring project and a discount scheme for shoppers.

“This is an enormous achievement for Lowestoft and is real recognition for a town which has faced difficulties, but can now look towards a positive future,” she said.

The second wave of “Portas Pilots” will entitle the beneficiaries to a share of �1.5m to help improve their town centres.

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Lowestoft Town Management Partnership (LTMP) is currently working towards a Business Improvement District (BID). The Portas Pilot means some of the initiatives can start immediately and the BID would then give them sustainability.

“It will also give us Super BID status if we achieve them both,” said Emma.

“Both of these projects work alongside what LTMP has been doing for the last few years and will allow us to achieve some of our goals much quicker.”

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Minister for Housing and Local Government said of the Lowestoft Portas Pilot application in a letter to Emma King: “Your town of Lowestoft has shown the leadership, energy, enthusiasm and vision to make a real difference to your local high street and make it the hub of your community.”

Emma added: “Our thanks go out to the retailers for their patience and trust in LTMP and the Chamber of Commerce. We would also like to thank our partners including Waveney District Council for all their help in the submission of the Portas Pilot application. We are extremely thrilled about working on the Portas Pilot for the future of our lovely town and making Lowestoft the destination it deserves to be.”