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Wisbech step closer to £2 million make-over

General View of Wisbech High Street ANL-140506-122649009
General View of Wisbech High Street ANL-140506-122649009

Run-down shops in Wisbech are a step closer to getting a £2 million transformation after the first stage of a Lottery bid has been successfully passed.

Fenland District Council received notification of initial support for the Heritage Lottery Fund Townscape Heritage bid earlier this week.

The project aims to restore buildings in the High Street, including the eye-sore of Cook’s Butchers.

The first-round pass from the HLF is the culmination of a year’s hard work led by the district council alongside the Wisbech Society, Wisbech Town Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and more than 20 groups, overseen by consultants Ingham Pinnock Associates.

Development funding of around £108,000 is included in the initial award to help the council progress its plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.

The HLF funding is to be matched with £230,000 from the district council, £200,000 from the county council, £25,000 from Wisbech Society and £25,000 from Wisbech town Council.

The team will prepare a second round application for the HLF over the next year which will include the development of a more detailed proposal for the works and community projects.

David Oliver, the district’s cabinet member for conservation and leader of Wisbech Town Council, said: “We are delighted to have secured this initial backing for the Wisbech High Street project.”

Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Steve Count has also welcomed the news.

He said: “This is a great step forward in helping to rejuvenate this area of Wisbech.”

Chairman of the Wisbech Society Ray Johnson said: “People in Wisbech will be delighted by this news.

“The enthusiastic response to the consultation we helped to organise last year showed the great support there is for restoring these buildings.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund cash support – which is also supported by contributions from property owners – aims to complete structural and external repairs to buildings, bring vacant units back in to use and repair architectural detail.

Alongside the physical repair and restoration work, the HLF requires the funding to be used to engage the community in the project through an “Activity Plan”.

The emerging plan, designed in partnership with a range of community groups, seeks to get people and businesses involved in heritage through education, training and leisure activities.

The many proposed activities include: post 16 training in restoration, building maintenance courses, community archaeology and expanding the Heritage Open Days programme.

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