Government allocates £5m funding to ‘breathe new life’ into Greater Manchester’s empty high streets

Local authorities and communities will be given new powers.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 15th May 2024

The Government has allocated £5 million in funding to help “breathe new life” into some of the North West’s most struggling high streets.

And a couple of those set to benefit are here in Greater Manchester.

As part of the ongoing ‘Levelling Up‘ mission, and set to be in force by the summer, the Government announced yesterday (14 May 2024) that new powers are to be given to local Councils and communities to help them regenerate their high streets and fill the growing number of empty shop units.

The new local authority power to “combat high street vacancy” is named High Street Rental Auctions, and it will allow local leaders who know their area best to “take control” of empty properties blighting their high streets, and rent them out to local businesses that want use them.

According to the Government, these new powers will help Councils “level up their high streets” and tackle issues that have stemmed from prolonged high street emptiness, particularly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as low footfall – which has lead to struggling businesses, increased unemployment, and anti-social behaviour.


So, how will it work then?

Well, according the Government, where a high street shop has been empty for over a year, High Street Rental Auctions will allow local leaders to step in and auction off a rental lease for up to five years, and as the auctions will take place with no reserve price, this is supposed to give local businesses and community groups the opportunity to occupy space on the high street at a competitive market rate.


A new ‘trailblazer’ programme has been launched to help get the new powers up and running within a number of communities who are said to be “keen to lead the way”.

On top of these new powers announced yesterday, a new pilot programme helping to “accelerate regeneration” will also give 10 areas a share of £5 million to “breathe new life” onto their high streets by planting new trees, green walls, and green pocket spaces, and improving adjacent parks – with the 10 local authorities taking part set to receive £500,000 each.

The pilot is aiming to help Councils made their high streets fit for the 21st century, and entice residents back to the shops by working in partnership with local people and community organisations to create bespoke plans.


Five high streets in the North West – including two in Greater Manchester – three in Yorkshire and the Humber, one in the West Midlands, and one in the East of England will be awarded funding from the £5m pilot scheme.

Union Street and Yorkshire Street in Oldham town centre, and Hyde town centre in Tameside, are the two Greater Manchester areas set to receive £500,000 each.

Read more:

If this pilot programme is successful, the Government has already hinted that it could be “rolled out more widely” across the rest of England.

Featured Image – Google Maps