Good support for Wisbech regeneration plans

Shoppers and residents have their say on the plans to regenerate Wisbech.
Shoppers and residents have their say on the plans to regenerate Wisbech.

Plans to regenerate Wisbech’s High Street have received enthusiastic support from shoppers and residents.

Three run-down shops could be transformed over the next three years if a £2 million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) application is given the greenlight.

Fenland District Council is working with other town groups along with Ingham-Pinnock Associates to put together a scheme to improve eyesores, such as Cook’s Butchers (number 24), and create much-needed homes in flats above other shops.

Several hundred people visited the council’s trailer in the Market Place on June 11 and 14 to give their views on the regeneration and how they would like to get involved.

Comments were invited on 14 community activities. People showed particular interest in a proposal for a new heritage construction course at the College of West Anglia to help residents gain skills.

Strong support was also expressed for putting on a range of events to show off the town’s heritage, including community archaeology digs and opening up historic buildings currently closed to the public.

David Oliver, the council’s cabinet member for dilapidated buildings and renaissance, said: “We were delighted with the reaction on both days, which was hugely positive.

“Everyone we spoke to wants to see something happen in Wisbech that they can be proud of. There was a lot of interest in number 24, where we are proposing to create a new public space.

“The responses to some of our ideas were split between creating a small town centre park and doing something that has a real ‘wow’ factor.”

Ray Johnson, chairman of the Wisbech Society, said: “The response we had on both days was absolutely fantastic, with a lot of people coming into town especially to give us their views. People were tremendously supportive.”

An initial bid is due to be submitted to the HLF in August.

Wisbech has also been selected as one of 29 towns to receive support from the Business in the Community’s Healthy High Streets Campaign. The Co-operative Group has been chosen as the town’s champion and this could create 100 jobs.

The news has been welcomed by MP Steve Barclay.

He said: “This is great news and I’m delighted Wisbech will be receiving extra support to help breathe new life into its High Street.”