THE mayor of Oswestry believes £700,000 of new funding will help to rejuvenate the town centre in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

Councillor Duncan Kerr welcomed the Government funding, which will tackle empty properties and enhance the town to boost economic recovery following the pandemic.

The funding, which is backed by £500,000 from Oswestry Town Council, will be used to deliver a repair scheme for strategic buildings, and convert empty buildings with a mixture of workspace, retail and restaurants on the ground floor, with residential properties above.

It follows Oswestry’s successful bid to Historic England last year to become a High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ).

The successful bid was made by Shropshire Council, in partnership with the Future Oswestry Group.

Cllr Kerr said the funding will make a huge difference for the future of Oswestry.

“This is excellent news. Tackling empty properties has been a priority for local people and this investment will help to rejuvenate the town centre, protect the town’s characteristics and make it a place where people want to spend time.

“This investment from Historic England together with the council’s contribution will make a difference.

“We are very much looking forward to working with Shropshire Council and partners to deliver.”

Overall the scheme will have a total budget of £1.25 million, including the town council cash and anticipated private investment.

Becoming a HSHAZ will help to support the aims of the Future Oswestry Group to develop the long-term vision for Oswestry town centre.

The Future Oswestry Group partners are currently working with Historic England to finalise the HSHAZ programme.

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for assets, economic growth and regeneration, says the funding will bring Oswestry’s high street to life.

He said: “Building on the work of the Future Oswestry Group, the HSHAZ funding provides an exciting opportunity to tackle and address some of the heritage issues and empty properties within the conservation area of the town.

“Through a strong place-based approach to management of the high street, we will be working with key partners to deliver this vision and to bring the town’s high street to life.

“This is an exciting time for Oswestry, and the HSHAZ funding will give us the ability to push on with some of the projects that had already been started through the Future Oswestry Group.

“This collaboration between Shropshire Council, Oswestry Town Council and the BID is key to the success of ensuring that we maximise on the impact of the funding.”