Empty shops in the Ely area could soon be given a temporary lease of life thanks to a new scheme.
East Cambridgeshire District Council is launching a new programme called the East Cambridgeshire Pop Up Grant Scheme.
The project involves giving potential retail entrepreneurs the chance to test out their ideas in either existing shops whose owners are willing to work alongside them - or in vacant stores.
Through a ‘pop-up’ shop, an entrepreneur can test with real customers whether their product could work and also bring vacant retail space back into use.
The grant scheme will make small grants of up to £500 available to act as an incentive to new retailers who have not previously had retail presence – with priority given to applications from residents who are local.
Cllr Tom Kerby, who leads on economic development at the council, said: “We know there are many people working on a very small scale – sometimes online or from their own home – who are looking for the chance to test their ideas.
“These are the people the East Cambridgeshire Pop Up Grant Scheme is there to help – to give them the opportunity to take temporary shop space to sell their products.
“The pop-up business scheme is just one initiative which we are developing to help those people who are looking to set up a business take their first tentative steps.
“By working with the trade associations and groups like Your Ely, we are looking at ways which we can help keep our town centres special.
“For I think we all understand that for the centre of our towns to remain vibrant, we all have to be innovative and think a little differently. By grasping the opportunities and working together, I am sure we can be successful.”
The last business of its kind to run in the city was a pop-up patisserie by talented local baker Fiona McDuff.
She ran the patisserie inside Spa Ely in Forehill for two weekends in the run up to Christmas and it proved to be such a success that she is now hoping to soon open something more permanent.
Businesses wishing to take part in the scheme, or to find out more, should call the council on (01353) 665555 and ask to speak to the economic development team.
Alternatively, visit www.eastcambs.gov.uk.