Small businesses in London are being invited to apply to the £9m high street fund.

Unveiled by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the fund is designed to help create welcoming and diverse high streets.

It is hoped that small businesses will take a leading role in bidding for grants to boost their local town centres. Funding can be used to smarten up shop fronts, improve public spaces or to hold mini festivals with the aim of firms and community groups being at the heart of that funding.

Johnson said: “The high street fund has been set up to give boroughs, businesses, town teams and other organisations the chance to work together and explore further ways high streets can be remodelled.

”I welcome ideas that are as distinctive as the high streets they serve; whether you are a local group who wants to turn that empty shop into a crèche for your community or a restaurateur desperate for help with a licensing issue holding you back from using the pavement outside your café. High streets are London’s most prized urban asset and this fund will invest in, support and champion their continued growth and success.”

The deadline for applications of £20,000 and over is 1 December 2014 with the successful applications to be announced in January 2015 and grant agreements signed in March 2015. Applications of up to £20,000 are being accepted up until the fund closes in March 2016.

Retailers can apply to the high street fund here.