Havant Borough Council’s ‘Vacant Shop Scheme’ was launched last month in a bid to rejuvenate the town centre, which has seen a rise of vacancy rates and unused spaces.
As a result 30 businesses ranging from retail, leisure, entertainment, hospitality, beauty and wellbeing have expressed interest in addition to education and childcare services, a council spokesman has confirmed.
Leader of the council, Councillor Alex Rennie, said: “We are delighted with the interest that has been received for the vacant shop scheme in Waterlooville.
“The scheme proves a fantastic opportunity for applicants to secure funding to assist capital development and repurposing works on vacant commercial properties, that will help rebuild Waterlooville Town Centre.
“With 30 expressions of interest being registered from businesses looking to start-up or expand into the area shows that there really is a high level of interest in businesses wanting to invest in Waterlooville.
“We will continue to work hard to regenerate Waterlooville Town Centre and look forward to seeing some of these businesses open in time for Christmas trading this year.”
The businesses will now be evaluated to find those ‘with the greatest potential’ to support the regeneration of the town centre. Each business will be invited to submit a full application to demonstrate the long-term commercial viability of the project.
The council has allocated £140,000 for the scheme, which will be disbursed through grants ranging from £10,000 to £50,000, contingent upon the size of the unit being refurbished. Any approved funding must be used for permanent renovation works only.
The news comes as the town awaits news on the fate of the Wilko store following the failure of company administrators to find a buyer. So far nothing has been confirmed if another business will take over the site or if it will simply close. Other businesses which have left the town centre in recent times include Waitrose, New Look, Shoe Zone, Peacocks and Game.
However the owners of the Wellington Way have recently began a renovation project, and in recent years businesses such as Little Bay Eatery and Harvest View Brownies have opened up in the town centre, and Waterlooville Fruit and Veg and Hays Travel have both relocated to bigger and better premises.