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Update on future of Wisbech's 'Marmite' building 'The Gap' could be made after secret debate

A secret discussion on the state of play for the redevelopment of an eyesore building in Wisbech town centre is set for Thursday by Fenland councillors.

Talks on 24 High Street, Wisbech, which is set to be transformed as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded High Street Project, will be held behind closed doors at tomorrow's Fenland cabinet meeting.

The project, will see a futuristic building replace the derelict shell of Cook's Butchers, which has fallen into complete disrepair over the past decade.

What The Gap might look like. (29205952)
What The Gap might look like. (29205952)

Plans for the building, which will be known as 'The Gap' involve the creation of a temporary structure providing a contemporary, multifunctional space capable of hosting a range of community, events, exhibitions and activities, a rope art installation to reflect Wisbech's nautical past, and a viewing platform.

Termed the 'Marmite' building because of the 'love it' or 'hate it' reaction the proposals got when they were first announced in 2017, it will be 12.5metres high and its viewing platform will offer visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy views across the town.

Planning permission for the development was finally granted last July, nearly seven months after it was expected to open.

What The Gap might look like. (29205948)
What The Gap might look like. (29205948)

In October Fenland confirmed there had been some delay with the project because before demolition could start the council had to secure agreement from all neighbouring properties affected by the removal of the structure and to allow further ecological assessment to ensure wildlife would not be adversely affected by the work. At that time demolition was expected to be complete by the end of last year.

However, council leader Councillor Chris Boden admitted tomorrow's discussions involve further "legal matters and prejudicial contractual issues", which needed to be agreed before any work could be undertaken.

He said: "Given the time constraints on the Heritage Lottery money, these need to be sorted as soon as possible to avoid losing the funding. Come what may we must not lose that Heritage funding regardless, we have got to bite the bullet and start the project.

What The Gap might look like. (29205955)
What The Gap might look like. (29205955)

"It is unfortunate that the specific reasons for the delay are the very matters that need to be discussed confidentially. However, I am hopeful that after the meeting, we will be able to make a clear statement on where we are at and what will happen next."

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