£1.88m boost to get town roads improved

Elm High Road/A47 junction

Elm High Road/A47 junction indicating major improvements. The plans are being finalised but there is no timetable for the work to be done - Credit: CCC

Nearly £2m is winging its way to Cambridgeshire County Council to help deliver three major road improvements for Wisbech.  

But even with the money – agreed by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) - there is no guarantee the work will happen anytime soon.  

The CAPCA board unanimously voted through £1.88 million to take the project through to the design stage and to buy land needed for the improvements.  

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson described it as putting the project “into the pipeline as a ‘shovel-ready’ scheme ready to go if given funding”. 

Paul Raynes, director of delivery and strategy said by offering the cash “it ensures that spend already incurred on land negotiations and design is not wasted”. 

And the county council will have a “fully complete design, full business case and land available”. 

There are three schemes in the pipeline for Wisbech – scaled back from five that originally were highlighted in the Wisbech Access Strategy.  

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Mr Raynes said the five options evolved more than five years ago but a southern access road and New Bridge Lane/Cromwell Road signalisation were “paused following concern regarding the effects on traffic flows of a proposed development of an energy from waste plant in Wisbech.” 

The three schemes to be partially bankrolled by CAPCA are: 

1: Elm High Road/Weasenham Lane junction  

2: Elm High Road/A47 junction  

3: Broadend Road/A47 junction  

Wisbech Access Strategy has faced significant financial challenges, with the county council’s initial target spend of £10.5m for the three projects nearly doubling. 

In June the county council reported that to deliver all three would be £19.5m “far exceeding the available budget”. 

In a joint statement, CAPCA and the county council said: “The Wisbech Access Strategy is a much-needed scheme and key part of the local plan for Fenland”.  

Elm High Road/Weasenham Lane junction

Elm High Road/Weasenham Lane junction - Credit: CCC

£1.88 million – on top of the £2.09 million already spent –"brings back from the brink the Wisbech project, an important key to desperately-needed growth in jobs and housing for the most deprived community of Cambridgeshire”. 

Mr Raynes advised the CAPCA board that “the availability of future funding is uncertain. 

 Elm High Road/A47 junction

Elm High Road/A47 junction - Credit: Google

“Approving a further £1.88m means that, if further funding does not materialise, the amount of public money spent on the aborted project is that much higher.”