Aldershot town centre has been chosen by the government as one of a just a small number of pilot areas in the country to receive expert support and funding to help with town centre regeneration.

The good news was announced by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick on Monday (30 December), with Aldershot one of only two areas in the south east selected out of 14 nationwide so far announced, with another six to be announced shortly. The pilot scheme will be rolled out across the rest of the country later this year.

Being selected as a pilot means that Rushmoor Borough Council will benefit from bespoke support and guidance from the government’s new High Streets Task Force (HSTF), announced by the government in response to recommendations of an expert panel on the high street chaired by Sir John Timpson.

The High Streets Task Force will give face-to-face support, access to cutting-edge research, new online training, and local footfall data to give businesses an edge that will help transform local town centres. They will also help the council to focus and enhance their current funding bid.

The council had originally bid for around £8.5 million from the Future High St Fund , but by developing a more detailed business case in partnership with the task force, it is hoped that this may be increased.

Although the amount of possible funding has not yet been detailed, the first 101 places to benefit from the High Streets Fund last summer received a maximum of up to £25 million each. The fund is part of a £3.6 billion government investment in town, including £1 billion to help high streets to adapt and evolve while remaining vibrant and safe places at the heart of communities.

Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Planning and Economy, Councillor Marina Munro, said: “This really is excellent news for Aldershot. We are absolutely delighted to learn that we have been selected as a pilot area and will be able to draw on this expert help. We look forward to developing our bid for funding early in the new year.”