A long-term action plan to revitalise Wisbech and the surrounding area is already making an impact, according to a new report.
Details of the progress made so far in realising the aims of the Wisbech 2020 Vision, which launched 18 months ago, have been published.
The 34-page update outlines what has been done to tackle a 29-point Action Plan which highlights issues including the A47, Wisbech-March rail link, arts initiatives, dilapidated buildings and development.
In the past 18 months, a shopping and entertainment complex has opened at Wisbech’s Cromwell Park, a ‘My Loyalty Card’ scheme introduced to help boost local shops and Wisbech has been named as one of the first 29 towns to gain support from the national Healthy High Streets campaign.
The report also revealed 809 children in the Wisbech area entitled to free schools meals are missing out.
Councillor John Clark, leader of Fenland District Council, said: “Wisbech 2020 is a long-term project – but it is clear that it has already achieved a lot.
“Crucially, it has focused attention, locally and nationally, on key issues facing Wisbech and Fenland as a whole and has succeeded in bringing together many different organisations to tackle them.
“Much remains to be done. We are continuing to work hard with all our Vision partners and will plan the next steps when we meet for the Summit in a few months.”
Councillor Steve Count, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “I am delighted with the progress.
“I am particularly proud that our lobbying – with Stephen Barclay MP and Fenland District Council – for the Wisbech-March railway line and linking it to the national rail network has had its case strengthened by the completion of initial viability studies.”
Key achievements set out in the update include:
• Notice served on the owner of Constantine House at Wisbech ordering him to bring it back into use – to be completed by September or further action will be taken.
• A £2 million Heritage Lottery Fund bid being prepared to tackle dilapidated buildings in Wisbech High Street.
• A new bus service being introduced as part of an agreement with Tesco to help improve infrastructure.
• A bid made to the Department of Transport’s Local Sustainable Travel Fund for money to improve bus, walking and cycling facilities.
• A £7.2 million Technology Centre opened at the College of West Anglia Isle campus, with a £6 million new-build programme this summer.
• Sale agreed of the old gasworks site on Nene Waterfront, with 70 homes planned, including 24 affordable homes.
• Eighty-eight new homes approved and in the process of being built.
• National recognition for Operation Pheasant, tackling rogue landlords and gangmasters and improving living conditions in overcrowded housing.
• St Peter’s Lodge up and running as a studio for artists, with several successful bids for external funding to promote local projects.
• The Ferry Project given a five-year extension to help it secure funding to develop Queen Mary Centre as a community centre, with work also continuing to improve the use of community facilities in Waterlees and develop more activities for young people.
The full Progress Update can be seen at www.wisbech2020vision.co.uk