Empty shops will be brought back to life in Wiltshire as large grants are given out to help businesses move in.

Wiltshire Council has now awarded £197,000 to help local businesses move into the county's vacant high streets but says that there's still a significant pot of money that can be accessed.

The Vibrant Wiltshire grant scheme comes after years of closures have turned previously bustling shopping areas into ghost towns.

Castle Place in Trowbridge has been one of those worst hit, with SK Fruits, Wilko, Shaws the Draper and Mainly's Mica hardware stores all among those who fled the 'dying' shopping centre last year.

“From what I can see, Castle Place is already dead,” regular shopper Sam Webster told the Wiltshire Times.

“The market downstairs is largely empty and most of the shops on the main floor have no tenant."

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Castle Place in Trowbridge is one of the shopping areas that has been worst hit by closures.Castle Place in Trowbridge is one of the shopping areas that has been worst hit by closures. (Image: Trevor Porter)

Colin Hayward, who has been a taxi driver in Trowbridge for seven years, added: "Saturdays used to be very busy with shoppers in that area. Now years later it's a ghost town."

But the Vibrant Wiltshire vacant unit grants hope to change all that, as small businesses can access up to £10,000 to occupy empty commercial spaces in town centres across the county.

“We’ve allocated nearly £200,000 to businesses so far, but we want to do more, and that’s why we’re extending the deadline and encouraging both new and existing businesses that would like to move into an empty unit to apply," said Councillor Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Development.

“The grants have supported a diverse range of businesses, including a jeweller, florist, bakery, beauty salon and clothing retailer.

"This funding is helping the businesses to grow and thrive, and the high streets to become more vibrant places that people want to visit," he added.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Wiltshire Council hope to bring back bustling high streets to every town in the county.Wiltshire Council hope to bring back bustling high streets to every town in the county. (Image: Newsquest)

Towns which have benefitted from the huge grants so far include Bradford on Avon, Devizes, Malmesbury, Marlborough, Melksham, Pewsey, Royal Wootton Bassett, Trowbridge, Warminster and Wilton.

There is a total of £500,000 allocated to the Vibrant Wiltshire funding and nearly 60 per cent of that has been unused so far.

“This funding is part of our Business Plan commitment to support our town centres and encourage them to thrive so I’d urge more eligible businesses – particularly on those high streets that have yet to benefit from a grant – to come forward and apply," said Coun Clewer.

Businesses can either already be trading or looking to start up and must move to a unit that is currently vacant in one of the eligible town centres. You can find out more by emailing vibrant.wiltshire@wiltshire.gov.uk