A new grant scheme offering businesses and organisations up to £10,000 to bring vacant buildings back into permanent or temporary use has been launched by Bristol City Council as part of fresh support for Bristol’s economic recovery.
The £1.3 million initiative, funded by the city council, will focus on encouraging new types of businesses, including creative and cultural activities, services and community uses into the city centre and high streets across Bristol.
Open to applications from new or expanding small or micro-sized businesses, charities, community, voluntary or social enterprises, the scheme aims to offer support to boost customer footfall, create new jobs and improve the sustainability of businesses.
Small or micro businesses are defined as having fewer than 50 employees, a turnover of £10.2 million or less and £5.1 million or less on its balance sheet.
Applicants hoping to lease or rent a previously vacant commercial property can apply for grants up to a maximum of £10,000, with the grant size dependent on the length of lease or rental agreement. Applicants are expected to match any award granted by at least 20 per cent.
The vacant commercial property grant scheme forms part of the wider City Centre and High Streets Recovery and Renewal programme, which has received funding from the West of England Combined Authority’s Love our High Street project.
Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet member for Finance, Governance and Performance, said: “The city centre and Bristol’s high streets have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 over the last 18 months.
“Offering support in the form of the vacant commercial property grant scheme offers a lifeline to our high streets. Opening new businesses and diversifying what is on offer will increase footfall and encourage people to shop locally, support their high streets and boost Bristol’s recovery.”
To apply for a grant, the business or organisation must be looking to lease or rent currently vacant commercial premises located within Bristol city centre or one of the 47 high streets, with consideration given to properties located just outside these areas as long as they are in very close proximity to them.
The grant can be used to cover a wide range of activity from building works, improvements and modifications to new equipment, shop fittings and display units.
Applicants will be encouraged to demonstrate how their business will benefit the high street and Bristol citizens, by adding diversity to the area, employing local people or people from under-represented groups, adopting the real Living Wage, improving disabled access and facilities and demonstrating a clear commitment to sustainability through choice of materials, transport and energy.