£6.4 million funding bid to progress Wisbech Garden Town project is a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity to regenerate town says Fenland Council leader
PUBLISHED: 12:39 23 June 2017
Ambitious plans to regenerate Wisbech are a 'once in a lifetime window of opportunity' to transform the town and its community.
Fenland Council leader Councillor John Clark is urging the new Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) to approve the council’s bid for £6.4 million of funding, to enable the Wisbech Garden Town project to progress, ahead of its meeting on Wednesday (28).
Cllr Clark said: “There is a once in a lifetime window of opportunity now available to transform the future of Wisbech and its community. We are recommending that partners should recognise this opportunity and give their support to ensure its success.”
A report to the meeting explains the Wisbech Garden Town concept was born out of the Wisbech 2020 Vision last year when associated partners recognised high levels of deprivation in the area could only be reversed through growth of housing and the economy.
The project will see Wisbech regenerated with 10,000 to 12,000 homes over the next 40 years.
The report says initial work has already proven it has the potential to attract inward investment, improve transport links and positively impact the social wellbeing of the town by improving education attainment and health and raising its profile through branding.
There is strong support from all tiers of local government and North East Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay, but funding is now needed to examine whether the project is viable.
If approved, the CPCA investment would fund numerous feasibility studies over the next two years to see if key barriers to the delivery of the project, such as flood risk, transport issues and land acquisition, can be addressed and overcome. Other activity will look at opportunities to improve education attainment, health and the general environment.
Included in the bid is £3.2 million to carry out the next stage of the Wisbech Rail study. The report says the reopening of the rail link is seen as a “fundamental part of bringing about significant change to the area” by improving connectivity and unlocking many wider economic benefits.