£100k West Blackhall Street business support fund

BUSINESSES affected by ongoing works to regenerate Greenock’s traditional high street can bid for financial assistance from a new £100,000 support fund.

Members of Inverclyde Council’s environment and regeneration committee have agreed to set aside the six-figure sum for small and medium-sized traders with pressures caused by the cost of living crisis, as well as potentially being impacted by the works.

More than £3.2 million is being invested in this first phase of the West Blackhall Street regeneration project, which aims to make the street more attractive to shoppers and visitors.

It began in January 2024 and is due to run until the autumn.

While West Blackhall Street has remained open at all times during the redevelopment, the impact of the cost of living crisis on retailers coupled with the rolling road closures and associated works means has led to the resilience fund being set up to help provide support to traders in the short term.

A £100k council support fund will be launched soon and eligible businesses will be able to bid for a one-off grant.

Councillor Michael McCormick, Inverclyde Council’s convener of environment and regeneration, said: “We have listened to businesses and recognise the range of pressures faced by traders in West Blackhall Street and I’m pleased to support the creation of a business resilience support fund.

“The fund will soon be open to small and medium-sized enterprises to bid for a one-off grant from the council to help them through these challenging times while we try to make much-needed improvements to Greenock’s traditional high street.

“In the meantime, West Blackhall Street is still open for business so let’s support the many wonderful local retailers, restaurants, and service providers, and let’s get behind Greenock and the ongoing regeneration of the town centre.”

The new business resilience support scheme is being funded using a proportion of the council’s allocation from the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund.

Councillors also agreed to spend a further £75k to develop a pilot project to tackle economic inactivity as requested by the Scottish and UK governments through the Inverclyde Socio-Economic Taskforce, which they are both part of.

Both initiatives will now be progressed and further details, including how to bid for funding, will be published in due course.

The West Blackhall Street project is being funded by Inverclyde Council and active travel organisation Sustrans Scotland through their Places for Everyone scheme, which is an active travel infrastructure programme backed by Transport Scotland and administered by Sustrans, with a contribution from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT).

The redevelopment is aimed at creating a vibrant area which is accessible for all with additional space for pedestrians and cyclists and new public realm areas with extra seating and trees being added to enhance the environment, whilst maintaining vehicle access.

The street is also being opened up with existing roads layouts replaced with a single one-way system straight through from Westburn Street to Grey Place to simplify access for cars and parking down one side of the street only.

As well as improving the look and accessibility of West Blackhall Street, the project is also designed to ‘future proof’ the area so that it will be compatible with more sustainable forms of transport and zero-carbon targets with a shift in focus towards pedestrian priority.

Plans for West Blackhall Street were developed following consultations with the public, residents, traders and partners who all recognised the need for improvements to Greenock’s traditional high street a number of years ago and these remain current.

The project supports the aims and objectives of the Greenock Town Centre masterplan to promote West Blackhall Street as a safe, accessible and attractive street in which to live, shop and spend time in, with a focus on supporting future uses such as café culture and the night-time economy.

Information about existing business support on offer is available from the Inverclyde Council website visit www.inverclyde.gov.uk/business-and-trade/business-development/business-support-and-advice.