Shop Front Improvement Scheme - Guidance Notes

Guidance notes to assist with completing the application

Who can apply?

The Shop Front Improvement Scheme is available to both existing independent businesses and owners of vacant units which are located within the Breckland market towns.

The scheme is open to all freehold owners and leaseholders who are named on their lease and tenants of premises with commercial/community services shop-frontages within the market towns of Breckland. Tenants must have the building owner's prior written approval.

The grants are discretionary and subject to the availability of funds. The inclusion of a building within the eligible area does not give any automatic entitlement to a grant.

The scheme will support works that were carried out from January 2021 onwards. If you are unsure of whether your business will qualify for a grant you should contact Breckland's Regeneration Team on regeneration@breckland.gov.uk

How much is the Grant For?

Businesses can apply for a grant towards the external renovation or improvement of ground floor and upper floor shops. The grant will cover 100% of the eligible costs up to a maximum of £3,000.

Please note that grant availability is subject to funding and is available for a limited period only.

Design guidance

The scheme aims to encourage the use of good quality materials, appropriate detailing, sympathetic signage, sensitive security features and access for all that respects the character of the building overall and its contribution to the wider appearance of the area.

What will the scheme fund?

Not all improvement works will be eligible for a Shop Front Improvement Grant. The grant will only fund "eligible works."

The following generally will be considered as eligible for support:

  • New shop fronts.
  • Repair and reinstatement of all or any part of a shop front fixture that is visible from the street, including the upper floors of premises where they are used for retail or commercial activities.
  • Repainting of shop fronts in suitable colours.
  • Re-pointing, repair and cleansing of external stonework and brickwork at and below fascia level.
  • Fascia signage in keeping with the character of the building.
  • External lighting.
  • Internal security grilles and/or security glazing.
  • Alterations to doors and level entry to permit access for people with disabilities.
  • Fabric roller blind awnings and canopies.

The scheme generally will not fund the following:

  • Lighting within window displays.
  • Window display equipment.
  • General pedestrian access improvements.
  • Re-pointing, repair and cleansing of external stonework and brickwork above fascia level.
  • Repair and reinstatement of guttering and down pipes.
  • Externally mounted security features.
  • Dutch, balloon or plastic awnings and canopies.

Businesses that have more than three outlets nationally will not be eligible to apply.

Funding example

The following example illustrates a typical Shop Front Improvement project and demonstrates how eligible and ineligible components will be considered in assessing the level of grant applicable.

ItemDescriptionCost (£)Grant (%)Grant (£)
1Planning Fees30000
2Agent Fees70000
3Shop Front2,0001002,000
4Signage250100250
5Painting200100200
6External Lighting500100500
7Internal Lighting1,00000
8Display Equipment50000
Total 7,250 2,950


In this example the total project cost is £7,200 of which only £2,950 were eligible costs that qualify for the 100% grant. This results in a total grant of £2,950 which is within the maximum grant limit of £3,000.

Will I need planning permission?

Most alterations to shop fronts within Breckland will require permission under the Planning Acts, Advertisement Regulations or both, and work carried out without consent may result in enforcement action or prosecution by Breckland Council.

Planning permission is required for works that involve a material change to the external appearance of a premises. Such works include alterations to the fascia, the windows or the doorway, changes to the materials used or the installation of blinds/awnings or security shutters.

The complete or partial demolition of an unlisted building within a conservation area will require conservation area consent. This includes the removal of features which give the shop front character, such as stall risers, fascia's, or window frames.

Any alteration which affects the special historic, artistic, or architectural interest of a listed building (including character and appearance) will require listed building consent. Such works include alterations to architectural details, alterations to the interior, the installation of shop front security measures, and in some cases the repainting of a shop front.

Advertisement consent is required for the display of certain types of signs in particular locations.

Please note that it takes the approximately six weeks to determine a planning application, advertisement consent or other statutory consent. This consideration should be built into the project timetable.

Breckland Council can be contacted prior to making a grant application if there is any uncertainly about permissions required for the proposed work.

How do I apply and what do you need?

In order to consider your application, we require the following:

  • Completed Application form including the full detailed schedule of works to be carried out and any supporting evidence.
  • Proof of ownership/lease - The applicant will either need to provide proof of ownership or if the property is leased, the applicant will need to provide proof in writing that they have permission from the owner to carry out the works.
  • If leased, the building owner must countersign the application to show that they have given permission for the works to be carried out.
  • Details of the permissions that will be needed to carry out the work and proof that the permissions have been granted. If the grant application has been submitted prior to receiving the permissions, a copy of the permission should be submitted as soon as it is received. Please note that until this has been provided, funds will not be released.
  • Cost estimates including quotes and fees - evidence that you have obtained three quotes from contractors. You should state which of the three contractors you would like to employ and why. Please note that any grant offer will usually be based on the lowest quotation.
  • A current photo of the shop front and any available visuals of what it will look like after the improvements have been completed.
  • If applicable, evidence that you cannot reclaim VAT.

How is the decision made?

Applications will be considered by a small Grant Panel.

The Grant Panel will make a decision on the application within six weeks.

All grant offers will be made in writing. If the proposed project requires planning permission and the grant is approved, the applicant will receive a letter making an in principle offer of funding. A formal grant offer letter will be issued as soon as relevant permission is granted. Full details of the conditions that apply to the grant will be set out in a grant offer letter.

All grants will be conditional to the securement of appropriate consent. The scheme operates independently of the planning process and any offer of a grant does not imply in any way that planning consent will be granted.

A requirement of the scheme is that maintenance of the property to a satisfactory standard must be carried out for a minimum of three years

Grants will be paid on production of invoices from contractors showing a detailed breakdown of costs. Payments will normally be made after all works are completed, for larger projects interim payments may be considered.

Last updated: 23/09/2021 14:28:49