Businesses benefit from high streets cash boost

The first recipients to benefit from Folkestone & Hythe District Council's (F&HDC) innovative £3 million High Streets Fund have been announced.

Market Square Folkestone

Grants totalling £256,183 - all aimed at future-proofing the district's high streets - have so far been agreed with other applications in the pipeline.

Of the 13 grants awarded to date, four are in Folkestone, two in Sandgate and one in Cheriton. A further two in Dymchurch, three in Hythe and one in New Romney have also been agreed.

Cllr David Wimble, F&HDC's Cabinet Member for the District Economy, said: "For businesses and entrepreneurs, investment can often be about taking a leap of faith.

"The High Streets Fund is about helping them to make that leap and in so doing bringing residents and visitors into our town centres to support all of our traders.

"We have been presented with some wonderful, well-thought-out plans and it is exciting to know that there is such a lot of confidence in the district." 

Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 are available and will normally cover up to 50% of a project.  Folkestone town centre will benefit from £2.2 million of the fund with the remaining £800,000 being allocated across the district.

One of the successful grant applicants is Ben Cuthbert from the Market Square restaurant. He and his wife Lucy are converting the basement at the Rendezvous Street premises to create a food hall for up to 15 small food producers.

He said: "The grant has inspired us to take such a big step. It has given us the confidence to match the investment ourselves. Would we have done it on our own? Perhaps, but it would have taken a long time.

"It feels like a lot of other people are getting behind Folkestone and this has encouraged us to continue to reinvest in the business."

The High Streets Fund will run until the end of March 2021 - or when all the funds have been allocated. Recipients have to meet strict criteria and show that works have been carried out before receiving their grant.

Three of the 13 businesses have fully completed the grant process:

Market Square restaurant, Rendezvous Street - conversion of basement into food hall for 15 artisan food producers.

Big Boys Fine Burger Co, The Old High Street - new signage, replacement of railings, improvements to outdoor area and repainting.

Conchitas restaurant, Bouverie Road West - extension and refit to support disabled access and facilities.

To apply for a grant and for more information visit the folkestone.works website.

Date published: 5 February 2020

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