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Welcome Back Fund

Ashford Borough Council has received the Welcome Back Fund from the Government to help drive footfall, celebrate reopening the high street and support our visitor economy.

Government have provided this funding and Ashford Borough Council have prioritised the primary High Street areas of Ashford and Tenterden as the most impacted areas within the borough. 

With high streets and shopping areas across Ashford and Tenterden fully reopening, it is vital the council continues to support its visitor economy and local businesses across the borough and encourage safe footfall into the town.

Which areas of the borough will benefit from the funding?

Ashford Town Centre and Tenterden Town Centre have been selected as the areas of intervention based on the direct impact of the pandemic and the ongoing critical role they play for retail, hospitality, leisure and community with the threat they face in the short to medium term.

The grant funding will support the towns in Economic and Community Recovery, Placemaking, Regeneration and Infrastructure.

The Welcome Back Fund provides councils across England a share of £56 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support the safe return to high streets and help build back from the pandemic.

What can the grant be used for?

The funding can be used to pay for temporary changes, to encourage more visitors into town, and for event activities that will drive footfall to the area. Some examples include:

  • The rent or purchase of temporary additional seating, tables, gazebos, marquees and lighting to enable the use of additional indoor or outdoor space and make it more accessible
  • Event activities, such as hiring equipment or space to host celebratory events
  • Technological adaptions such as apps for bookings/orders
  • Campaigns and marketing for new ideas
  • Improving green areas and seating areas around town centres
  • Beautification of areas to support visitor economy

What will Ashford Borough Council be using the funding for?

The council will be using the grant to support Ashford and Tenterden Town Centres with a variety of initiatives and projects lasting until March 2022. These include the following:

  • Communications and public information activity for both town centres in Ashford and Tenterden. A PR and Marketing agency will work on promoting the offers in Ashford and Tenterden Town Centres from now until March 2022.
  • A programme of music and street theatre throughout public spaces in Ashford Town Centre to animate the centre of the town throughout 2021/2022 on the weekends.
  • The Chill Lounge at Elwick Place featuring outdoor seating and a programme of music on the plaza of Elwick Place on Saturdays throughout the summer, which will create additional outdoor seating and live music in the afternoons
  • The employment of a temporary officer to carry out administration of this fund and manage the delivery of all actions across Ashford and Tenterden Town Centres

Who were consulted?

Local stakeholders across Ashford and Tenterden invited to a variety of meetings and given the opportunity to engage on an individual basis about the programme proposed and any ideas they had.  

  • The Ashford Town Centre Business Forum comprising of independent and national businesses based in Ashford, were consulted. In a series of meetings we discussed the funding guidelines and ideas for delivery.
  • Tenterden Town Council were engaged with and a series of meetings were held about the use of the funding for Tenterden.
  • Tenterden Town Centre Businesses were all visited and given the opportunity to provide ideas and comment on the programme.

Find out more about the Welcome Back Fund here