NEWPORT and Ryde are to benefit from hundreds of thousands of pounds to regenerate the town centres.

The towns both won shares of the government's £44 million High Streets Heritage Action Zone fund.

In Newport, supported by local shops and businesses, a partnership of Newport and Carisbrooke Parish Council, the Isle of Wight Council and Newport Business Association successfully secured £700,000 from Historic England.

Alongside contributions from partners, including the Isle of Wight Council, this goes towards a total project of £1.4 million for Newport’s High Street and town centre.

Ryde Business Association and Ryde Town Council had similar success with a grant of £480,000, which alongside partner funds will contribute towards a total of £960,000 to be spent on Ryde’s historic High Street and town centre heritage.

The two towns have now got a chance to develop a four-year programme of physical improvements, community engagement and cultural activities to regenerate their historic high streets and town centres.

Over the next few months the final programme of work will be agreed with Historic England, and could include supporting local retail and industry through shopfront grants, improvements to the layout of the two town centres, and works such as arts, sculpture, working with schools and community organisations.

Cllr Julie Jones Evans, chair of Newport and Carisbrooke Parish Council, said: "We are so excited to be chosen by Historic England for this fund, recognising the huge importance of Newport’s heritage, and the value we place on our historic county town.

"We have strong partnership working in Newport and this funding is a really important step towards a genuine revival for our high street and town centre.”

Cllr Wayne Whittle, cabinet member for regeneration at the Isle of Wight Council, said: "Heritage for the Island is one of our strengths — we have a lot of it.

"That’s why conserving and enhancing our heritage is key in our regeneration strategy.

"We know historic character particularly helps commerce in towns, so these grants and the national recognition they bring are not just window dressing but will genuinely help support and grow our shops and businesses in Ryde and Newport, and then across the Island.”

Zoe Thompson, chair of Ryde Business Association and chair of Ryde Regeneration Working Group said: "It is fantastic news. High Streets across the UK have felt the strain, so to have additional money to improve Ryde for everyone who lives, works and visits here is very exciting.

"We have seen how collaboration can work successfully, and look forward to now working with the Isle of Wight Council, Ryde Town Council and other stakeholders to bring this project to fruition."