Game on: March set for 'once in a generation' transformation after netting £8.4m funding
A once in a generation chance to transform the centre of March is on after it was confirmed the town will be receiving up to £8.4million of funding.
It will be used to transform areas around Broad Street, the Market Place and also the riverside, bringing more pedestrianisation, less traffic and also breathing new life into the derelict area of Acre Road.
The funding of £6.47million from the Government was confirmed by local MP Steve Barclay and may be match-funded by £2million pledged by Cambridgeshire’s newly elected Mayor Dr Nik Johnson.
News the town was in line for the government cash - part of a £1 billion national pot - was originally announced back in December, but with the recent mayoral election there was potential the Combined Authority’s portion might not be forthcoming.
However, Mayor Dr Johnson reaffirmed the Combined Authority's full committed and said: “The Combined Authority have been fully supportive of the March Future High Street Fund (FHSF) bid from its early development stage, and to date have approved £900,000 of matched investment towards the scheme through the Combined Authority Market Towns Programme.
“Furthermore, the Combined Authority remain fully committed to realising this once in a generation opportunity that the FHSF represents for March and is currently exploring additional funding to Fenland District Council to further support the FHSF bid, subject to successful Board approval.”
Speaking of Wednesday’s confirmation the town will receive £6.4million from the Government, Mr Barclay said: “This investment will be a huge boost for March at a time when it is sorely needed.
“Town centres should be vibrant places to live, work and shop and the pandemic has dealt a harsh blow to retailers and those in the hospitality sector whose businesses thrive on a town centre that is the heart and soul of our community.
“This sum of money is a once in a generation opportunity to bring positive change and I’m delighted that it has been confirmed and planning to deliver these projects can start in earnest.
“The funding was allocated in principle in December 2020 and Fenland District Council has been working with MHCLG on a revised submission in the final step of the funding process. The total now approved, £6,447,129.12, expected to be match funded by £2million pledged by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.”
Mr Barclay added: “Many have been involved and consulted, including members and officers of March Town Council, Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Cambridgeshire County Council, and – most importantly – the residents of March who contributed their views and opinions as part of the community consultation.
“Today’s announcement is a milestone in the Government’s levelling up agenda, renewing and reshaping town centres in a way that drives growth, improves experience and ensures future sustainability. This is the icing on the cake of a number of funding and improvement announcements across the entire constituency during the last year.”