Moment of truth for ‘garden town’ for Wisbech as Fenland Council meets Government deadline to submit bid to be included in new initiative
PUBLISHED: 18:40 09 November 2018 | UPDATED: 18:40 09 November 2018
Fenland Council has met the Government deadline for its submission to the Government’s garden community initiative who has promised massive support to those towns, villages or areas accepted into the programme.
If the Government decides to accept the council’s prospectus to reshape Wisbech as a ‘garden town’ it could pave the way for new roads, re-opening of the rail line, up to 10,000 more homes.
The council believes it has done enough to catch the Government’s eye and if its prospectus is agreed huge changes could begin to happen.
Council leader Chris Seaton said: “The garden communities’ prospectus is a really exciting opportunity for us to secure important government funding and assistance to help deliver a transformational garden community.”
He said the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) was looking for bids that would support economic growth “and have a distinctive local identity”
He said: “Wisbech Garden Town meets their criteria and will help to regenerate Wisbech with essential new homes, additional jobs/skills, a new multi-functional large country park and road and rail upgrades.”
The MHCLG launched its prospectus in August to offer councils and private sector partners renewed support for creating new communities.
Priority is given to proposals comprising of more than 10,000 homes, with successful bids receiving resource funding and support. In some cases this could mean setting up local development corporations to tackle infrastructure, to unlock development and, where necessary, use compulsory purchase powers to help lay out a new town.
Fenland Council has included in its bid some of the work on flood risk carried out with £50,000 of funding from the Dutch government.
The council says its partners, that include Anglian Water, are now keen to explore how a future tidal barrage – a constant water level through the town – and options for winter flood storage could support “wider sustainability objectives and add weight to the ‘climate change resilient’ proposal”.
The recently published Cambridge and Peterborough Independent Economic Review (CPIER) also endorses the flood risk work, recommending that “Wisbech should be seen as a UK test-bed for new flood-resistant approaches to development, and levels of investment in flood defence infrastructure should be substantially increased”.
MP Steve Barclay said behind the scenes he continues to press for progress on Wisbech Rail following the news that £3.25 million has been committed for the next phase of work by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
He said: “The latest news is that the consultants undertaking the engineering study will be appointed by the end of this month and will start in December, with the work taking around nine months.
“I am meeting the combined authority at the House of Commons to discuss this in more detail and to ensure momentum is maintained.”