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Shop front improvement grant guidance

What is the Chorley Shop Front Refurbishment Grant?

The Chorley Shop Front Improvement grant provides financial support to landlords or prospective tenants of vacant retail properties to encourage investment in the visual appearance of a shop frontage, and/or to make the property more attractive for letting purposes.

This fund is managed by Chorley Council and the following criteria apply:

  • the property must be vacant
  • the property must be situated either within the defined town centre boundary, or within district/local centre boundaries as shown in the Chorley Local Plan 2012-2026
  • for applications regarding a food related business, whether from the landlord or the incoming tenant, the business itself must have a minimum Level 3 Hygiene Rating
  • Projects which are only for signage will not be supported

What is the financial support for?

The Shop Front Improvement Grant is for comprehensive capital works (rather than routine maintenance) to improve the visual appearance of a vacant retail property. Works may include new windows (as part of an overall scheme), exterior treatments, lettering, fascias, signage (only as part of a bigger scheme) and lighting on the principle ground floor trading elevation of the property. First floor will also be considered where appropriate. Physical improvements to a shop entrance to improve disability access are also eligible for grant support. The grant may also pay towards the planning and building regulations application fees where relevant.

The lowest value net quote(s) will be used to calculate the eligible project costs and the 75% grant intervention, in order to achieve best value for the programme.

Am I eligible for support?

The funds will support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who are planning to invest in the range of activities detailed above. An SME is a company which employs fewer than 250 persons (full time equivalent) and has a turnover of less than 50 million Euros and/or has an annual balance sheet of less than 43 million Euros. No more than 25% of the company's capital or voting rights may be held by a parent company which is not itself an SME.

In order to comply with EU state aid regulations Chorley Council is unable to provide financial support to companies in the transport sector, or those involved in the production of agricultural equipment.

Please note: An offer of grant assistance from the Chorley Shop Front Improvement grant scheme must be in place before you commence or pay for any works that you require grant funding for. The grant is not available retrospectively to fund work which has already been carried out and/or paid for.

Is this State Aid?

Yes. The Shop Front Improvement Grant uses public money and therefore this constitutes state aid as defined in the European Commission regulations.  It will be given to SMEs under the EU de minimus rules. This means that an SME can receive up to 200,000 Euros of state aid over a rolling three year period. More information on state aid. You will be required to provide details of any state aid received during the last three years on the grant application form.

How much can I apply for?

The award of financial assistance is discretionary and all applications will be considered by a Grant Panel.  Any grant award will be calculated on the lowest of any quotes provided.

Businesses may apply for up to 75% of the total eligible net(without VAT) project costs, up to a maximum grant of £10,000.

Applicants should ensure that no grant project work is commenced or paid for prior to an application being approved and a grant offer letter issued.

All grants are paid on defrayed expenditure, i.e. the grant payment can only be claimed from the Council once the project has been completed and the contractors have been paid. Evidence of this will required.

Are there any standard conditions to receiving the grant?

Grant assistance is subject to receiving where appropriate, a satisfactory business plan and cashflow forecast that demonstrates the viability and future sustainability of the business.

There must not be any environmental health, business rate enforcement or legal issues outstanding with Chorley Council at the time of the grant application.

Grant assistance is conditional on the applicant checking whether any statutory permissions are required for the work being undertaken.

Successful applicants who are within the digital of creative sector, will also be required to participate in the free Digital Creative programme, delivered by Chorley Council. The Digital Creative programme provides Lancashire based start-ups and SMEs in the digital or creative sectors, who operate on a business-to-business basis, up to 12 hours free support to start/grow your business. Digital Creative is subject to availability and eligibility.

Successful applicants will also be required to be involved in joint publicity to promote the Chorley Shop Front Improvement Grant scheme. This could include participation in photo opportunities, the preparation of press releases and case studies.

How do I apply?

In the first instance please contact the Council's Business Engagement team to discuss your potential application on 01257 515300 or email edu@chorley.gov.uk.

You will receive guidance on the grant application process, which will include when and how to submit the grant application form, which will also involve sending:

  • If you're a new business, a copy of your business plan
  • If you're a new business, a three-year cash flow forecast
  • If you're an existing business, a copy of your most recent financial accounts and/or management accounts. Additional information may be requested at grant appraisal stage.

Note:If your end of year accounts are due for submission to Companies House, or are to be produced for your own purposes within a month of making this application, you will be required to supply these accounts either as draft accounts, or provide these as soon as finalised, so they can be considered as part of your application.

  • confirmation of a submitted application for building regulations or planning permission (if applicable)
  • landlord's permission to undertake the project work (if applicable)
  • evidence of your element of the 'top-up' funding required (i.e. Bank statement)
  • three written quotes for the works or equipment

In addition, you will need to provide the following in advance of receiving any financial assistance from the Shop Front Improvement Grant scheme:

  • copies of other consents as appropriate e.g. building regulations
  • landlords permission (if applicable)
  • evidence of 'top-up' funding (e.g. bank statement or letter from Bank)
  • three written quotes for works or equipment
  • a copy of your business plan
  • three-year cash flow forecast
  • a copy of your accounts from the previous 3 financial years (where relevant) or a copy of your most recent financial accounts and/or management accounts. Additional information may be requested at grant appraisal stage.

Note:If your end of year accounts are due for submission to Companies House, or are to be produced for your own purposes within a month of making this application, you will be required to supply these accounts either as draft accounts, or provide these as soon as finalised, so they can be considered as part of your application.

  • confirmation of a submitted application for building regulations, planning permission or advertising consent (if applicable)
  • copies of consents if already approved e.g. planning permission, building regulations or advertising consent (if applicable)
  • landlord's permission to undertake the works or if you are the landlord, a letter or email confirming this
  • evidence of 'top-up' funding required (e.g. bank statement or letter from bank)
  • three written quotes for the works

Monitoring

The Council is required to monitor the economic assets of the grant scheme, e.g. the creation of jobs, and will require successful applicants to provide evidence of the delivery of Shop Front Improvement grant application outputs to enable payment of the grant and for the lifetime of the project.

What happens next?

One of the Council's Business Engagement Officers will submit an application in principle on your behalf to the grant panel, providing the Council's Business Engagement team understand you meet the eligibility criteria. The panel meetings occur on a fortnightly basis and your initial application will be declined or approved in principle. If your application is approved in principle, you are then required to submit a completed application form and supporting documentation which the Council's Business Engagement Officers can support you with. Please note, from the date of your application being approved in principle, you have 12 weeks to submit your full  application and compliant supporting documentation. If this is not provided within 12 weeks the grant allocation will be removed from the database. The applicant may however request an extension to the timescales via the Council's Business Engagement team (see footer for contact details). Extensions are at the discretion of the Council's Business Engagement team and should be agreed before the deadline to avoid you losing your grant allocation in principle.

Following receipt of a completed application form and compliant supporting documentation, a decision will be made by the grant panel within 4-6 weeks.

The Council's Business Engagement team will contact you in relation to your application and, if successful, will provide you with a formal offer of grant assistance, subject to a '5 Day Call In Period' where the grant panel decision is open to scrutiny by Councillors. Therefore, it is at your own financial risk if you commence work before the 'Call In Period' has ended. Once you have received this formal offer you are able to commence with the works for which you have applied for funding from the Chorley Shop Front Improvement grant. Any work carried out or paid for prior to the date of your grant offer letter will be deemed ineligible.

Payment of grant

The grant is paid on defrayed expenditure i.e. grants will only be paid to the applicant when:

  • all works have been completed or equipment purchased to the satisfaction of the Council's Business Engagement team
  • the Council has inspected the original contractor's invoices and proof of applicant's payment of contractor's invoice

Once payment is agreed with the Council's Business Engagement team, grants will be paid within 30 days.

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