Southwark Council has created a £600,000 fund to help pay for a range of measures that will breathe new life into the borough's high streets.
The fund - dubbed the High Street Challenge - will provide sums of between £1,000 and £75,000 to businesses and community groups whose ideas for revitalising local shops and markets are approved.
Cash is supposed to be targeted at increasing Southwark businesses’ ability to compete with West End retailers and out-of-town shopping malls, and could pay for shop-front makeovers or promotional events.
Councillor Victoria Mills, Southwark’s communities and economic wellbeing lead, said the authority was well aware that many of the borough’s town centres and shopping parades were experiencing hard times.
“We want to help them go from strength to strength, whether that's through better promotion, new uses for empty shops or physical improvements to their high street,” she said.
“Local businesses are so important to the community; boosting the economy, creating jobs, and adding to people's sense of local identity.
“I'm sure many local business-people have thought 'I'd love to give that a go if only I had some spare cash' - well now is the time to put those thoughts down on paper and apply for funding to turn those ambitions into reality."
The fund is open for bids until 7 March. More details are available from the High Street Challenge page on Southwark's website.
A new website for the local community, which explains the council's plans for the regeneration of Old Kent Road, has been launched