Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 09.03.22Business in the Community’s Healthy High Streets programme aims to increase footfall by 10%, reduce the number of vacant properties by 20% and stimulate the creation of new jobs in 100 towns over three years. The programme first launched in June 2014 and is backed by some of the UK’s biggest high street brands – Boots UK, EE, Exterion Media, Greggs, Marks & Spencer and Santander and new partner Wilko.

Darlington is one of 33 new High Streets selected for the programme across the UK today, bringing the total number of participating High Streets to the programme target of 100 towns.  Darlington will receive a bespoke package of support, including access to skills and expertise, and dedicated High Street Champions from supporting businesses who will work together with the Business Improvement District company, Distinct Darlington, Darlington Borough Council and relevant local partners to devise an action plan to address the specific challenges facing the town. The impact results for the 3 year programme will be announced in July 2017. Over the last year of the programme,  it has brought support and resources worth £17 million** from  its  corporate partners into 67 UK high streets.

Commenting on the programme’s expansion, Robin Foale, Managing Director, Santander Universities UK, and chair of the Healthy High Streets programme said “Congratulations to Darlington on being chosen to be part of the Healthy High Streets programme. This is a great opportunity to work with the business partners and the local High Street Champions to transform your town and create a thriving, vibrant centre for the local community.”

Business in the Community’s Peter Donohoe said: “One of the most powerful ways for business to make an impact in communities is by creating high streets that are vibrant places to live, work and do business. It has been heartening to see first-hand the practical difference that collaborative, business-led action can make on UK high streets over these past two years. While there is much to be proud of about our Healthy High Streets Programme we also know that there is more work to be done. We warmly welcome Wilko as programme  partners and  look forward to working with them  to create lasting change.”

Business in the Community is a member of the Government’s Future High Streets Forum and supports the High Street Pledge. The pledge, which was launched on 7 July, is currently supported by over 40 of the UK’s leading businesses. They are committed to using the leadership expertise, skills and resources of their business to help UK high streets achieve their full potential.

Alex Hirst, manager of Distinct Darlington said “We are absolutely delighted that Darlington has been selected as one of the Healthy High Street towns this year, their aims for the chosen towns closely matches what we are currently working to achieve and we’re excited to see the benefits it will have in Darlington”.

To find out more about Business in the Community’s high streets work visit www.bitc.org.uk/healthyhighstreets