Wisbech passes crucial round one to win £2million lottery funding to restore derelict buildings and shops
- Credit: Archant
Wisbech is in line for a £2 million restoration boost after passing a crucial stage in their bid for Heritage Lottery funding to help restore derelict buildings and shops.
Fenland District Council announced today the application has passed the first round test and has been given £108,000 to prepare their final submission.
A council spokesman explained that the Heritage Lottery Fund has now set aside the money for Wisbech subject to submitted a detailed second-round submission.
“The project aims to deliver the restoration of a number of buildings and facades on Wisbech High Street and turn the former Cook’s Butchers site into a new area of public space,” he said.
The spokesman said the first-round pass from the HLF is the culmination of a year’s 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 Associates.
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“In addition, a high level of support has been provided by staff at English Heritage, which is also represented on the project team,” he said.
“The HLF’s announcement is a significant achievement for the team behind the bid. The competition for this round of Townscape Heritage grants was extremely strong: only 13 of the 30 applications from all over the UK were successful.”
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The HLF funding is to be matched with investment led by Fenland District Council, which is contributing £230,000, along with Cambridgeshire County Council (£200,000), the Wisbech Society (£25,000) and Wisbech Town Council (£25,000).
The project team will now spend the next year preparing a second round application to the HLF. That will see the development of a more detailed proposal for the physical works and a series of projects designed to secure the active involvement of local businesses, colleges and community groups.
Councillor David Oliver, FDC’s cabinet member responsible for conservation and leader of Wisbech Town Council, said: ‘We are delighted to have secured this initial backing for the Wisbech High Street project. “The area was identified in Wisbech 2020 as requiring investment and regeneration and this is a welcome first step in achieving this goal.
“We would like to thank all the local stakeholders who have already contributed so much to the development of the first round bid and we look forward to working with them during the second round..’
Councillor John Clark, FDC’s Leader, said: “It’s a great achievement for the council and its partners to have got the HLF’s go-ahead to take this scheme forward. It’s another big vote of confidence in our plans for revitalising the town.
“The project will help transform this vital area in the heart of Wisbech and that in turn will help raise the town’s profile and increase the potential for further investment.
“The support we’ve had from the consultation group and the local community has been a major factor in winning the HLF’s approval in the face of strong competition from schemes from across the whole country.”
Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Steve Count, said: “This is a great step forward in helping to rejuvenate this area of Wisbech.
“Attracting more businesses and improving the heart of the town is part of the Wisbech 2020 vision and this news will help make that a reality. It also shows what partners can do when they work together and I hope we will continue to do so to secure the final funding that will make such a difference to the communities in and around Wisbech.”
Ray Johnson, chairman of the Wisbech Society, 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.”
Ben Greener, HLF’s Regeneration Advisor, said: “Past Heritage Lottery Fund research shows that even small changes, such as improving shop fronts or restoring a building’s historic features, can make a real difference.”
The HLF funding, which is also supported by contributions from property owners, is sought to undertake structural and external repairs to buildings, bring vacant units back in to use and repair architectural detail.