Town's 'fit for the future' make-over wins unanimous support
Major plans to rejuvenate a Fenland town centre have earned unanimous backing and will now go through the detailed design process.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority pushed forward the fresh new fit-for-the-future look for March when members of its Board approved the use of £180,000 to start detailed designing for the scheme.
In a unanimous vote at the authority's Board meeting, welcomed by Cambridgeshire Mayor Dr Nik Johnson as “good news for the wonderful market town of March”, members united behind the Mayor’s proposal to free money to accelerate the plan.
The money, earmarked by the Combined Authority for the Broad Street plan last August, will now speed up bringing the Broad Street plans to life as part of improvements laid out by the overall March Area Transport Study, or MATS.
A n authority spokesperson explained: "Accelerating delivery is crucial to help March to meet the Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) deadline, making safe the government money for the market town. "
Fenland District Council was successful in obtaining the FHSF cash to renew and re-shape the town centre and high street - to drive growth, improve people’s experience, and ensure future sustainability.
The Combined Authority is working with Fenland on the project and has provided the funding for highways work to make transport greener and safer, especially for pedestrians and cyclists, in harmony with other elements of the plans.
In seconding the Mayor’s proposal, Councillor Chris Boden, Fenland Council's leader, told fellow Board members that councillors and residents of March were aware that the Combined Authority Board’s ‘generosity’ was making possible the improvement work in March.
Part of the FHSF proposal for Broad Street has been aligned with the preliminary design proposals from the MATS to create consistency in design, delivery and outcomes. Part of the condition of the FHSF award, is that the funding is spent by March 2024.
The spokesperson added: "Failure to progress the proposed MATS Improvement Schemes would endanger March’s regeneration, with a likely knock-on failure to bring about desired changes in the town centre to facilitate its regeneration."
Members noted progress on the March area transport project to date, including the next step for expediting the detailed design of the Broad Street option to enable the March Future High Street Fund project.
Wednesday’s approval means the £180,000 can help bring about early delivery of the Broad Street design, a crucial part of regenerating the heart of March, and key to supporting progression of the Future High Streets work in the market town. The MATS study is running under budget with an underspend of approximately £250,000 and the £180k will come from these savings.
The current stage of the MATS is due for completion next month. This includes Outline Business Case (OBC) and preliminary design for a package of schemes including:
• A141 / Twenty Foot Road traffic signals
• A141 / Peas Hill Roundabout (60m ICD) and Hostmoor Avenue roundabout
• High Street / St Peter’s Road traffic signal improvements
• Broad Street / Dartford Road / Station Road mini roundabout with Broad Street one lane in each direction
• Development of a Northern Industrial Link Road (NILR)
The MATS project should go to the Combined Authority Board in January 2022 to request the next stage of funding for the project which includes Detailed Design and Full Business Case