Sunderland moves to next stage of multi-million-pound fund bid

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Sunderland's High Street is one step closer to a multi-million-pound boost, after council bosses revealed it has made it to the Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) shortlist.

The Leader of Sunderland City Council has announced that the city is one of just 51 towns and cities across the UK to have made it through to the second phase of the Government-led initiative. 

Officers at the council submitted a bid in the spring, to make the case for additional funding to deliver improvements to the city centre, and have been eagerly awaiting the outcome. 

Sunderland must now work-up a business case, stating what it would do with the money - which could be as much as £25m - and this will then be considered by the Future High Streets team.  300 local authorities made a play for a share of the £675m Future High Street Fund, which will grant support to allow successful authorities to carry out capital improvements.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said the news was another welcome boost to for the city. 

He said: "This announcement is another huge step forward in delivering our vision of a vibrant, dynamic city centre.  This is a hugely competitive process, and we have done a fantastic job in moving to the next stage with our bid.  I am determined that we develop an undeniable business case to ensure that Sunderland benefits from the FHSF, and uses it to deliver yet-more positive change in the city centre.

"There is a palpable sense of momentum now - we mean it when we say that we will transform the city centre for everyone, and this funding could really support this process.  We're working hard to make sure Sunderland sees the benefit."

Council officers will work up more detailed proposals about improvements they would prioritise if the city is awarded the funding.  It is expected that the money would be used to support investment across the city centre, including plans to improve the train station.

The Government will provide the council with a funding grant to help the city firm up on its proposals. 

The fund was set up to assist local high streets to evolve and adapt to the changing retail landscape, encouraging the development of vibrant town and city centres where people live, shop, use services, and spend their leisure time.

Councillor Miller added: "Sunderland is on an upward trajectory and the city centre is at the heart of this change.  We're making decisions that are stimulating market confidence - like our move to the Vaux site, which is a very important statement of confidence in our city centre vision - and it's paying dividends, with some really positive announcements already made and more to follow."

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