Town centre businesses in Monmouthshire are set to benefit from a new grant to aid recovery following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The COVID-19 Town Centre Outdoor Adaptation Grant offers businesses the chance to secure up to £8,000 towards improvements that aid social distancing as well as the environment and amenity of the county’s town centres. The council has already invited businesses and other organisations to apply, with the first grants to be awarded shortly. So far, more than 80 town centre businesses have expressed an interest in the scheme, and there’s still time for others to register, although it is highlighted that the funding available is limited and applications will be considered as received.
Throughout the summer, many shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants have found that using outdoor areas has helped reassure residents to shop and enjoy lunch or a coffee while still being able to social distance. Measures introduced in many of Monmouthshire’s towns over the summer months have helped to support this. These have included wider footways to accommodate queues and facilitate social distancing and the creation of new pavement café areas to allow businesses to expand outside their premises.
Councillor Bob Greenland, Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council said: “As the county’s businesses prepare for winter months that are likely to see a continuation of social distancing and other measures to combat Covid-19, the opportunity to receive funds to help cover the cost of items such as outdoor lighting, tables and seating should not be overlooked. The scheme also includes awnings and canopies, which can help keep shoppers dry, as well as heating to make sitting outside a more appealing option.
“I very much hope that as many businesses as possible go online and register their interest in this scheme. The more that benefit, the better it will be if our high streets are to retain their vibrancy and remain busy with shoppers throughout the winter. While social distancing is still recommended, many smaller shops and cafés may find utilising outside space key to their survival. As a council, we are committed to doing everything in our power to support Monmouthshire’s fantastic businesses. I’m pleased to say we’ve been busy processing applications and will soon provide grants.”
Funding is available for businesses located in the central shopping areas of Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow, Monmouth and Usk. Applications are mainly expected from hospitality businesses, but other, non-essential, retail premises with innovative ideas are also encouraged to apply.
The scheme offers funding of up to 80% of the total cost of eligible improvements, up to a maximum of £8,000 with businesses required to meet the remaining 20%. Higher levels of funding may be considered in exceptional circumstances, such as landmark buildings with significant outdoor space or where projects promote longevity and quality, offering a positive impact on public realm areas.
All items funded by the scheme should be of a sufficient quality to ensure they provide a lasting and attractive benefit to the publicly accessible spaces occupied. Where applicable, applicants will need to have, or to apply for, a café space license that enables outdoor trading.
The first step in the scheme is to register an Expression of Interest. This can be done via the council’s website, where additional information and guidance can be found. Visit Monmouthshire.gov.uk/town-grants/