The Wisbech High Street Project is being led by Fenland District Council and the Wisbech Society in an attempt to make the town centre more vibrant, by breathing life into buildings in need of some tender loving care.
The project has already received the initial support needed to continue with the application process and is now nearing the end of the lengthy second round bid process to secure the £1.9m funding for the High Street. If approved, this will see repairs made to ‘vulnerable’ and ‘at risk’ structures which have been identified as being particularly in need of restoration. Many of these buildings have suffered as a result of sitting vacant for many years.
Funding for this project will come from the Townscape Heritage programme, which is a funding pot managed by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The programme is designed to assist ‘schemes which help communities to improve the historic environment of conservation areas in need of investment’ and ‘schemes that make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities’.
Wisbech’s High Street is a vital part of this Georgian market town – linking the Brink to the Market Place – its restoration would benefit the look and the feel of the town, as well as having a knock on effect in other areas; attracting more visitors and consequently benefitting local businesses in the process.
If funding is secured, it is hoped that the project will also benefit local people with opportunities for the community to get involved and make the project their own, as well as potentially bringing apprenticeship opportunities to young people looking for employment.
Alan Seeley, programme manager for Technology at CWA Wisbech campus, said: “It was great to see some of the town’s youngsters getting involved with the activities. We need more young people getting into the construction industry; it’s a very rewarding and worthwhile career, especially now it is on the up again.
“It will be marvellous if in the coming months we have some of our apprentices working on the town’s historic buildings, and helping to get them back to productive use.”
Councillor David Oliver, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member responsible for heritage, said: “The whole day went really well. We had a steady flow of people and the various displays provoked a lot of comment, particularly the idea of a tower and viewing platform.
“The block paving and stencilling activities laid on by the College of West Anglia were very useful in terms of engaging families and young people.
“Although this consultation focused particularly on the Cook’s Butchers site, it also gave us the chance to update people on the progress of whole High Street project and get their views on the best way to take it forward.”
The restoration process of historic buildings will take time, but it is hoped that within the next five to six years, it will make notable positive advances to Wisbech and its community.
(information taken from Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce website – http://www.cambridgeshirechamber.co.uk/newsevent.php?newseventid=4640)