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March wins vital cash from Combined Authority




March looks set for a 'once-in-a-generation' transformation after the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority agreed to give crucial extra funding.

The authority's board agreed to Fenland District Council's request for an additional £1.1million of funding at its meeting this week.

Cambridgeshire Mayor Dr Nik Johnson proposed from the chair and members voted unanimously to award the money to help keep March’s development plan on track.

Improvements planned for Acre Road in March were under threat without the extra £1.1million.
Improvements planned for Acre Road in March were under threat without the extra £1.1million.

On Boxing Day last year the government announced it was giving £6.47million in future high-street funding to the March project to transform areas around Broad Street, the Market Place, and riverside as well as a reviving the derelict part of Acre Road.

But that government award required match funding from the Combined Authority. The Board decided in January this year to award £900,000 but an agreement in principle by former mayor James Palmer to give a further £1.1m was never ratified before he left office.

Without the £1.1 million approved by the Combined Authority Board members, the Government would likely have cut its award, weakening the whole project and losing the Acre Road development scheme in its entirety.

Ambitious plans submitted to transform Marchthrough the Future High Streets Fund - the plans include a stunning transformation of the town's river side. (50624684)
Ambitious plans submitted to transform Marchthrough the Future High Streets Fund - the plans include a stunning transformation of the town's river side. (50624684)

The board's agreement to give the extra £1.1million previously promised by former Mayor Palmer brings the Combined Authority 'scontribution of £2 million and ensuring March does not lose out.

Members spoke enthusiastically about supporting March’s development. The schemes were described as ‘absolutely transformative’, ‘lovely’, enjoying ‘widespread support’, and Councillor Lucy Netsingha said it would be ‘bonkers’ not to give March the funding.

Fenland Council leader Councillor Chris Boden described the scheme as 'transformative for March town centre' and said the current town is not fit for purpose in its current state.

An artist's impression of the finished Market Place scheme. (50624781)
An artist's impression of the finished Market Place scheme. (50624781)

"This is going to make an enormous difference to the lives not merely of people in March but people who travel through March for those go to March for work and for shopping."

The aim of the project, which has five transformational schemes, is to address the decline of March as a market town and to redesign how the town centre functions as a retail, entertainment and residential hub.

Ambitious plans submitted to transform Marchthrough the Future High Streets Fund - this is what Broad Street could look like. (50624729)
Ambitious plans submitted to transform Marchthrough the Future High Streets Fund - this is what Broad Street could look like. (50624729)

Read more:Hanging in the balance - two Fenland schemes in jeopardy

And more: Mayor’s rescue bid for Wisbech Access gets full backing from Combined Authority Board



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