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Ashford Town Centre Support Grants

The Ashford Town Centre Support Grant provides support to landlords or tenants to make improvements to their business premises and attract investment into Ashford town centre. The two grant schemes can provide 75% of the cost of works, up to a limit of £3,000 or £10,000, that need to be carried out to undertake work such as repairs, renovations, energy efficiency improvements or fit-outs to units.

The grant is funded from the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) (Discretionary) which has been provided by Government to councils to support businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Ashford Borough Council has pro-actively used this funding since November 2020 to issue support grants to over 400 businesses across the borough, helping to safeguard approximately 800 jobs.

The deadline for this round of applications is 11.59pm on 5 December 2021. Depending on the number of applications we receive, the council may consider further rounds after this date.

Please read the full policy attached on this page and take a look at each grant’s page for further information.  

Note: works allowed under these grant schemes will likely require Planning Permission (such as Listed Building Consent, Advertising Consent or similar). Ashford Town Centre is largely within a Conservation Area so you will need to consider the design and impact of your project. Please click on the relevant guidance below to see what you will need to consider and how to contact the Planning department about your project or how to submit a planning application.

Also, due to lead in times for planning applications, only grant applications submitted before 5 December 2021 that require planning permissions will be accepted. Please ensure you read the planning information and consider the need for planning permission before submitting a grant application.

Planning Guidance

Policy and Applications

View the Town Centre Support Grants policy [pdf] 1118KB

Frequently Asked Questions

+ Why is the deadline so soon?

The deadline of 31 March 2022 for spending the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) funding is set by Government and will not be moved. Ashford Borough Council is doing everything it can to make sure that this support reaches businesses.

+ Does this money have to be paid back, is it a loan?

No, this is a grant and therefore does not have to be repaid. The council may look to recover the grant money if the applicant does not meet the conditions of the grant.

+ Why are you not using the money to improve the public realm or street furniture?

Due to the restrictions of the ARG funding we can’t use this money for capital infrastructure projects.

+ I have recently finished this type of work to a property in the town centre so why can’t I apply for this grant retrospectively?

Government grants are available to support improvements not able to be delivered through commercial investment, so if businesses have already invested commercially, they will not be eligible for this grant.

The grants are also intended to provide the most impact possible within the limited budget and therefore we would focus on work that builds on the amazing investments we’ve seen recently to ensure improvements and investment continue.

+ How were the priority areas decided?

The priority areas have been set based on vacancy rates, known challenges in the town centre and linked to the Ashford Town Centre Reset Plan.

+ Why can’t tenants in Park Mall and Elwick Place access this Empty Premises grant funding stream?

Due to the restrictions on the ARG funding we cannot fund works or activity that ultimately benefit the council. Park Mall tenants will be able to apply for certain elements of the Shop Improvement Grant which we will consider on a case-by-case basis. Elwick Place tenants would not be eligible as the building is not five years old.

+ Can charities or non-profit organisations access this funding?

We will consider applications from these organisations as long as they meet the criteria and objectives for this grant scheme. The applications will be assessed based on various factors including the location of the property, the impact of the project and its deliverability.

+ Is this grant scheme being funded by Council Tax or other council funds?

This grant scheme is funded by Government through the Additional Restriction Grant (ARG) which aims to provide direct business support until 31 March 2022 in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

+ What’s the aim of this grant funding and how do I benefit?

The Ashford scheme is made up of various elements which are aimed at improving the visual appearance and the experience of Ashford town centre to create a more inviting environment for shoppers and tourists, thus benefitting businesses across the town centre, and residents across the borough.

+ Why has the council focused on Ashford town centre and not other parts of the borough?

We have considered a number of options for spending the remainder of the ARG funding. The chosen scheme responds to an ongoing challenge of high vacancy rates in Ashford Town Centre, and provides the best direct impact available within the budget and timescales. ARG has so far supported businesses across the borough between November 2020 and July 2021.

+ Is there really demand for this kind of grant and what impact would it have?

We have consulted with stakeholders and partners during the creation of this scheme and consider there to be a good level of likely demand for these grants. We are aware that there are wider socio-economic challenges facing the high street, however this grant funding aims to tackle the key issues of vacancy rates and shopfront visual appeal. This will sit alongside the Town Centre Reset planning work to tackle the wider challenges that Ashford town centre faces, like many others in the UK.

+ Will this grant be on a first-come-first-served basis?

As the funding for this grant scheme is very limited, we want to make sure the money is spent on projects that are clearly deliverable and provide the most impact. Whilst we do want to meet the Government’s deadline for using this funding, all applications will be assessed based on various factors including the location of the property, the impact of the project and its deliverability. The Council will look first to support those projects that will demonstrate the most impact in our priority areas.

+ I have an idea of what I want to do but I’m unsure whether I can apply for this grant.

We understand that each project will be different and that there may be elements that need to be discussed. The Economic Development Team and the Town Centre Regeneration Manager are on hand to answer your questions and support you. Please email the team on discretionary.grants@ashford.gov.uk to speak to us about your project.