An observatory tower or chill-out zone are among five bold ideas to replace a boarded up shop in Wisbech
- Credit: Archant
An observatory tower for people to overlook the town and an Italian piazza style chill-out area under a weatherproof canvas, are among five bold ideas to transform a section of Wisbech High Street into a new area called The Gap.
Five “bold, thought-provoking” ideas to give a modern look to a run-down corner of the town have gone on show to get people talking about how to transform a boarded up shop.
The designs for the High Street near Cook’s Butchers are by no means final, said a spokesman for Fenland District Council, but already a comment on a Wisbech High Street Facebook page says, has: “somebody been using hippy crack.
“Would look lovely in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Wisbech not in a zillion years. People in this town wouldn’t appreciate it.”
The designs are part of early stages of creating a user-friendly space for what is currently a boarded up area of empty shops.
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It will be made possible thanks to a £2 million Townscape Heritage bid from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Councillor David Oliver, leader of Wisbech Town Council, said: “The area was identified in Wisbech 2020 as requiring investment and regeneration and this is a welcome first step in achieving this goal.”
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Gary Garford, corporate director at Fenland District Council, said: “We want to make sure local people have their say in its design. We have a team of fantastic architects working on the whole High Street project and we are keen to produce something that future generations look upon with pride as we all do with so many of Wisbech’s fantastic historic buildings.”
A spokesman for Ingham Pinnock, the consultants over seeing the project, said: “Unfortunately, due to a combination of factors many of the historic buildings in Wisbech have suffered, particularly on the High Street. Many may be ‘at risk’ or ‘vulnerable’ and indeed some buildings have already suffered fatal collapse.
“The High Street requires a complex and considered solution to bring them back into active use and to secure their long-term future.”
The ideas were showcased at an informal event in Wisbech Market Place when shoppers were invited to help produce an eye-catching new hoarding for one of the High Street properties with help from College of West Anglia students and lecturers.
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. 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.”
The regeneration project consists of 30 properties within the Conservation Area.
The first-round lottery funding pass is the culmination of a year’s hard work led by Fenland District Council alongside the Wisbech Society, Wisbech Town Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and more than 20 local stakeholders, overseen by consultants Ingham Pinnock.
The next year will be spent preparing a second round of funding applications to get the ball rolling on transforming the town.