A Fenland church and a town centre are “at risk” says English Heritage

Wisbech town centre

Wisbech town centre - Credit: Archant

Wisbech’s Conservation Area and March’s historic St Wendreda’s Church have both been declared “at risk” by English Heritage.

St Wendreda's Church in March where Trevor Bevis thinks he has pinpointed the St Wendreda shrine.

St Wendreda's Church in March where Trevor Bevis thinks he has pinpointed the St Wendreda shrine. - Credit: Archant

The national body, responsible for protecting the nation’s heritage including historic buildings, has added both the Fenland town’s conservation area and the church to its at Risk Register 2014 for the East of England.

Wisbech Conservation area and the church are two of nine sites to be added to the register for Cambridgeshire, which this year has seen 10 sites removed thanks to restoration work to buildings such as Stevens’ Mill at Burwell.

A report highlighting Wisbech Conservation Area’s addition to the list states: “The area has a number of vacant buildings and gaps where buildings once stood, especially in Wisbech High Street. English Heritage has been working with Fenland District Council and other partners to address a number of key architectural buildings at risk and to build a positive strategy for regeneration and conservation of the wider townscape.”

A bid for £2million of Heritage Lottery Funding to rejuventate Wisbech High Street has been submitted with £480,000 already pledged from Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Wisbech Town Council and Wisbech Society.

January next year will see a decision on whether or not the bid has been successful in making it through to the second round of bidding. If it goes through then a final decision on funding will be made in January 2016.

Meanwhile the report on St Wendreda’s Church states it is of “immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric” - a solution has been agreed but not yet implemented and the condition is said to be “very bad”.

Most Read

However, a Heritage Lottery grant has been offered and work is due to start any time now.

The East of England at Risk Register, published today (Thursday) shows just under three per cent or 95 of the grade I and II buildings (excluding places of worship) are at risk in the East of England - the national figure is four per cent.

Of the 358 places of worship surveyed in the East of England, 115 are on the register, although 27 have been taken off the register this year following repair work.

Wisbech Conservation Area is one of just 39 out of the region’s 895 to be included on the register and there are 207 monuments on the East of England’s list - which equates to just over 11 per cent of the area’s 1,734 scheduled monuments.

North East Cambs MP Steve Barclay is continuing his crusade to see the area’s derelict and dilapidated buildings repaired and restored.

He is continuing to apply pressure to Fenland District Council and is questioning the lack of action and in particular the lack of use of court orders to force owners to carry out repair work or face expensive fines.

The council has issued just one of these court orders, known as a Section 105 order, on the owners of Constantine House, which has been a blot on the Wisbech landscape for several years after being ravaged in arson attacks.

The property is now under repair and Mr Barclay said: “Prior to the service of the court order the landlord had refused to act for the previous four or five years. It is surprising, however, that since my memo of May 2013 (outlining the use of court orders) not a single other derelict building has been subjected to a court order.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter