While we look to the future with optimism as our vaccine programme continues to make progress, we know that covid-19 has meant an unprecedented challenge for towns and high streets. That is why, last month, I announced a new urban centre recovery taskforce, bringing together local leaders and industry experts to help our cities and towns to adapt and take advantage of the new opportunities that may follow. This builds on our wider planning reforms, giving shop owners the flexibility to change the use of their property and to rebuild vacant properties as homes. All this comes on top of our £3.6 billion towns fund, the £4 billion levelling up fund and the new brownfield funding, all of which will ensure that towns have the investment they need to prosper.
I welcome the recently announced levelling up and brownfield funds. As we did not benefit in Stoke-on-Trent previously from similar funds, will my right hon. Friend do everything possible to ensure that we do not miss out this time on much-needed funding for towns such as Longton and Fenton in my constituency and for our entire city?
We will be publishing very soon the prospectus on the levelling-up fund, and that will give an opportunity for all parts of the country to benefit from this additional funding, including the community that my hon. Friend represents in Stoke-on-Trent. We also, as a result of his assiduous lobbying, have brought forward further funding for the remediation of brownfield land. Stoke-on-Trent has an excellent track record of developing new homes, but it does face significant challenges with the cost of remediation and the viability of those homes, so I hope Stoke-on-Trent will benefit from that funding as well.
Tremendous strides have been made in Aylesbury over the past year with the council and the town centre management team working incredibly hard, despite coronavirus, to make the town a place in which people want to live, work, shop, visit and invest. Proposals for the regeneration of the Market Square and Kingsbury Square will give a much-needed boost to the street scene, so could my right hon. Friend outline how the Government will assist ambitious local authorities such as Buckinghamshire Council to make plans for regeneration in Aylesbury a reality?
I am very pleased to hear that Aylesbury has made such progress with its regeneration plans, which will complement Buckinghamshire’s ambitious garden town project—to which we have already allocated over £172 million—to unlock 10,000 homes. My hon. Friend is right to say that this year a priority postcode for every single council in the country, including his own, must be how they can help their town centre to thrive, not just today but well into the future. That will include ambitious plans to turn underutilised retail into work spaces and homes, and trying to attract private sector investment by making full use of the planning reforms that we have brought forward, with a more flexible, more certain and more responsive system to make regeneration a reality.
I am delighted that high streets across the north-west will benefit from the future high street fund, including Kirkham in my constituency. However, seaside resorts such as St Anne’s that are already in need of regeneration have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, so what plans does the Department have to support the regeneration of this Lancashire coastal gem?
I was very pleased to announce last month that Kirkham will benefit from our future high streets fund, receiving over £6 million, which will go a long way to support its ambitious plans. Not only that, but my hon. Friend’s constituents will no doubt benefit, in part at least, from the £39.5 million that we have awarded to nearby Blackpool, which will help to revitalise the town and fund several projects, including modernising the illuminations, so that they can be brighter than ever later this year. He is right that as a seaside town St Anne’s faces some very significant challenges, which he and I have spoken about in the past. We have provided over £230 million of support to other coastal towns in England through the coastal communities fund, and coastal communities will be very much in our thoughts in the £4 billion levelling-up fund and also as part of the UK shared prosperity fund, both of which we will be publishing prospectuses for very soon.