£2 million Lottery grant submitted for Wisbech High Street

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Wisbech’s high street could be a step closer to receiving a £2million make-over after a Heritage Lottery Fund grant has been submitted.

The run-down fronts of three shops in the High Street could be refreshed over the next three years if the Heritage Lottery fund application is given the green light.

The scheme could improve eyesores, such as the remains of the Cook’s Butchers shop, along with creating much-needed housing in the flats above other sites.

Fenland District Council is working with groups in the town along with Cambridge-based consultants, Ingham Pinnock Associates, on the Wisbech Dilapidated Building project.

Cambridgeshire County Council had resolved unanimously to increase their investment in the project to £200,000. This takes the total for local contributions to the project up to £480,000: Fenland District Council has pledged £230,000, the Wisbech Society £25,000 and Wisbech Town Council £25,000.

The HLF will now spend the next few months reviewing the stage one application in detail before its board makes a final decision in January.

If the initial application is successful, there will be another period dedicated to developing a second stage application, which could be submitted to the HLF for final consideration in around January 2016.

Gary Garford, corporate director at the district council, said: “We are delighted to have had such great support from local groups and both the county and town councils and hope that will help to make a stronger case to the HLF for their investment.

“We would like to thank the local community for their vital contributions to the application, whether that has been via the pro-active consultative group which has met every month over 2014, the wonderful and creative students at the Thomas Clarkson Academy or the general public for attending and giving their views at consultation events.

“We will provide an update on progress in the New Year when we have heard the outcome of the stage one application.”

The HLF funding, linked to contributions from building owners, is being sought to undertake structural and external repairs to buildings, bring vacant units back in to use and repair architectural detail.

Alongside the physical work, the HLF requires the funding to be used to engage the community in the project, by means of a series of projects and programmes.

Together they make up an activity plan that has been designed in partnership with a range of community groups and includes opportunities for local people and businesses to get involved in heritage through education, training and leisure activities. Proposed projects include:

- Formal post-16 / adult training in conservation construction at the College of West Anglia with “taster” / feeder modules at Thomas Clarkson Academy, with practical restoration projects

-Accredited building maintenance courses for owners, stewards, occupiers

-Community archaeology events

-Interior and shop front design work experience with students from the Thomas Clarkson Academy

- The involvement of NEETs (young people not in employment, education or training) in the restoration work

- Expanding and capitalising on the national Heritage Open Days programme