Plans to reinvigorate the centres of Salisbury and Trowbridge for the post-Covid age have taken a step forward.
Wiltshire Council leaders last week approved the next stage of funding bids for the government's £1 billion Future High Streets Fund.
The council's two bids aim to reinvigorate the high streets with a range of projects to attract visitors and businesses in to the heart of the city and town.
Council officers will now create business cases for each bid, for submission before the end of the month.
But success is in now way assured – a bid for Salisbury in 2019 was rejected by the government.
Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of Wiltshire Council and cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: "The Future High Streets Fund bids will help us to unlock the potential of Salisbury city centre and Trowbridge town centre, as we adapt to the changing face of the high street.
"The high street has faced a number of challenges in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic will only add to the challenge as we look to attract more people to visit, stay and shop in Wiltshire.
"Our officers have worked hard to create attractive and comprehensive bids for the Future High Streets fund, and if we are successful, this funding will enable us to invest in Salisbury and Trowbridge and make them more attractive places to live, work, visit and shop."
In Salisbury, the bid aims to make the city a more attractive destination for visitors and residents, by redeveloping the train station and its surroundings, and transforming Fisherton Street to help to connect the station to the city's retail core.
The plan will create smaller, more affordable apartments in unoccupied units above shops to encourage young people to live in the centre of Salisbury and spend money there, and also redevelop retail units in prime high street locations to create a cluster of small artisan retail and leisure units.
The Trowbridge bid focuses on improving connections into the town centre, bringing more leisure, residential and culture activity into the town centre; making better use of vacant units, and accelerating the development of key sites in the town centre.
It will do this by creating an improved environment for businesses and visitors to Trowbridge's high street; encouraging independent businesses and start-ups to set up businesses in vacant properties and creating safer, accessible pedestrian links along the river corridor from the town centre to the high street.
Several options for achieving these will be sent to the government for consideration, and if approved, outline plans will be created.
The project also aims to deliver a mix of cultural, leisure, co-working and residential opportunities within the heart of the town centre.
The Future High Streets Fund was launched by the government in December 2018 to renew and reshape town centres and high streets to help meet the challenges caused by changing consumer patterns.
Pictured: Fisherton Street by Tiia Monto reproduced under Creative Commons license