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How Penzance could use £25m to improve its town centre

How Penzance could use £25m to improve its town centre

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 9:11am 8th March 2020.

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

More details have emerged of how Penzance could use £25 million to improve its town centre.

Penzance was one of four towns in Cornwall which were named to bid for money from the Government’s £1 billion Future High Street Fund (FHSF) announced last year.

But it was the only one of the four which was invited to progress to stage two of the funding and awarded £150,000 to build up a business case. If successful it could unlock funding which would be used to support up to £22m of improvements.

The town has separately been included as one of four towns in Cornwall to benefit from the Government’s new Towns Fund and could potentially secure £25m of funding.

Now details have been published of what projects in Penzance could be taken forward using the new funding. 

A number of key projects have been identified which could be in line for funding from the FHSF programme.

Among them would be plans to bring back into use the half of the town’s Market House which is currently unoccupied.

There are also plans which could bring buildings back into use as housing as well as workspace and other uses.

Under the plans the projects would be delivered over a 10-year period.

market jew street penzance

Penzance schemes in the FHSF scheme:

  • Backlands and Market Jew Street – Currently in mixed ownership, the site can deliver around 95 homes with a café and shop. The delivery strategy is under appraisal, but the current preferred option is a phased delivery with grant funding accessed through the FHSF to derisk the site through the delivery of infrastructure to provide a viable investment proposal to take forward in subsequent phases.
  • Coinagehall – Southern town gateway site and priority for the Penzance Regeneration Partnership and the Place-Shaping Group. Mixed use development with options being considered including hotel, residential and workspace.
  • Market House – The leaseholder of the building is Lloyds Bank which only occupies half of the building. The bid team is currently looking at plans to bring the unoccupied ‘half’ back into use. However, it should be noted that there are challenges in terms of deliverability and, while work continues, it’s possible that this element may need to be removed from the FHSF bid and potentially incorporated into a bid to the Towns Fund.
  • Change of use of properties  – The area around Market Place has several large vacant units and effectively severs the main high street from Chapel Street and Causeway Head (the two areas of primary retail) and encourages antisocial behaviour. The aim is to preserve and rationalise primary retail floor space, such as sub-dividing larger vacant units to create smaller units, and to respond to the thriving small independent retail sector. Floors above ground level will be supported for change of use to residential or mixed use commercial including high-quality office accommodation or workshops.
  • Penzance Creative Cluster  – Development and delivery of dedicated creative industries workspace on Cornwall Council-owned land (existing car park) at the north entrance to Causeway Head. The £6m project was approved by Cabinet in November 2019 and is currently subject to ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) full application appraisal and will be included as evidence of match-funding leverage and an important strategic context for the FHSF bid with the delivery of workspace within the town centre.
  • High Street WiFi  – This element is led by the Penzance Business Improvement District and will include the installation of public WiFi on the high street and use digital capabilities to monitor footfall and other analysis.
  • Public realm improvements – Public realm improvements at key locations including the gyratory one-way system at the entrance to the high street, the northern entrance at Causeway Head (around the creative cluster workspace), Market Place and Coinagehall street. Public realm is limited within FHSF and will be linked to the interventions above rather than delivered in its own right. The rationale for public realm is to support re-connecting pockets of success within the town centre to the area earmarked for improvement as well as helping to define and create gateways to the town.

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