March nets £6.44m 'jackpot' grant to transform town

Lotto 'jackpot' for March

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson (left) and MP Steve Barclay reveal details of an £6.44m award to help transform March post Covid-19. The middle drawing is an illustration of proposed changes to the market place. Additional funding is coming from the Combined Authority. - Credit: Archant

March has hit a £6.44m Lotto size jackpot to transform Broad Street, the market place and riverside.  

A further £900,000 has been committed by the Combined Authority.  

Previous Mayor James Palmer had pledged another £1.1 million more in match funding to be redirected from other areas.   

But that remains subject to board approval by the Combined Authority. 

The investment by the Government’s Future High Street funds (FHSF) will allow for increased pedestrianisation, a reduction in traffic, and a transformation of the Acre Road area bringing old buildings back into use. 

Newly elected Labour mayor Dr Nik Johnson said: “I want to see us working like this a lot more during my time as mayor and I can’t wait to see March bringing its plans to reality.”  

Mr Barclay said: “This investment will be a huge boost for March at a time when it is sorely needed.” 

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March is one of 57 schemes given Government approval to help transform 72 high streets at a cost of over £830 million to help with Covid-19 recovery. 

Mr Barclay said: “Town centres should be vibrant places to live, work and shop. 

“The pandemic has dealt a harsh blow to retailers and those in the hospitality sector whose businesses thrive on a town centre that is the heart and soul of our community.   

“This sum of money is a once in a generation opportunity to bring positive change and I’m delighted that it has been confirmed and planning to deliver these projects can start in earnest.” 

The funding was allocated in principle in December 2020 and Fenland District Council has been working with Government ministers to finalise the deal. 

Mr Barclay said: “This is the icing on the cake of a number of funding and improvement announcements across the entire constituency during the last year.” 

Dr Johnson said: ““The Combined Authority has been fully supportive of the March bid from its early development stage, and to date has approved £900,000 of matched investment towards the scheme. 

“Furthermore, the Combined Authority remains fully committed to realising this once in a generation opportunity that the FHSF represents for March. 

“We are currently exploring additional funding to Fenland District Council to further support the FHSF bid, subject to successful board approval.” 

Dr Johnson said: “High streets should be the busy, sociable heart of a market town, a place where we linger, shop, grab a coffee, and have a laugh with our neighbours.   

“Every day should feel like market day. This injection of cash into March is a healthy example of how co-operation can bring communities new life.”