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Fenland wins as Board agrees first batch of Market Town proposals

1 October 2020

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Wisbech and Fenland featured strongly in the first tranche of proposals to help  Cambridgeshire’s historic market towns ‘get fit for the future’.

Today, Mayor James Palmer won approval from the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority Board for Fenland’s Wisbech and Whittlesey and Huntingdonshire’s Ramsey, Huntingdon, and St Ives to get funding for their development proposals.

Eleven market towns across the Combined Authority of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough are in the process of bidding for shares in £13.1 million from the Mayoral Combined Authority to help them build the future they want – with Fenland and Huntingdonshire towns first in line.

Backed by Mayor James Palmer, Wisbech’s proposal for £200,000 for Market Place Improvements to the appearance and facilities of the commercial and social “heart” of the ‘Capital of the Fens’, was approved by the Board of the Mayoral Combined Authority.

The idea is to enhance the Market Place as a trading area – to add to the economic success of the town centre and to make it better as a community space – where people can spend time, money and integrate as a community.  The rationale behind the initiative is to enrich this key area of Wisbech and build on the town’s vitality and vibrancy – providing social, environmental and economic benefits for those who live in Wisbech, work in Wisbech, visit Wisbech or who are looking to invest in the town.

The Board of the Mayoral Combined Authority also approved Whittlesey’s application for £57,500 funding for Interactive Flooding Signs  - which will give vital alerts for westbound traffic going from Whittlesey to Peterborough. The funding will pay for the installation, maintenance, and management of three signs at key locations in Whittlesey.

The indicators will warn when floods close the B1040 and will also tell motorists when the A47 is closed by accidents (the already-congested A605 through Whittlesey is the route normally used for diversions) and when roadworks are affecting traffic in the area.

Elsewhere, the Huntingdonshire market towns of St Ives, Ramsey, and Huntingdon were joint winners. They applied for the Board to draw down £300,000 – from the £3 million the three towns could ultimately share between them - to engage consultant specialists to develop business and investment cases for Huntingdon, St Ives and Ramsay. With these cases, the towns can make further bids to the Mayoral Combined Authority, and also to central government for funding.

St Ives is also asking for the Mayoral Combined Authority to give £42,400 for the installation of four footfall counters for the town. These will collect data to support investment cases for wider development plans and may have new significance in designing commerce for the town around the impact of Covid.

The awards will be put to work immediately. Funds given must be spent at the latest by 31 March 2022 - and deliverability remains a key factor in appraising project proposals

All proposals are asked to demonstrate how market towns can support Covid-19 recovery, reflecting new patterns of homeworking, use of public transport, active travel, the workplace, community space, and improvements on High Streets.  

The Market Towns Programme means each town has an approved Masterplan, funded by the Mayoral Combined Authority, that details its own priority projects, and the central part they can play in delivering against the target for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area to double its gross value added (GVA) over the next two decades.

Combined Authority investment – which could be up to a million pounds for the right market town proposal or mix of proposals - will mobilise Masterplan projects to drive targeted growth and regeneration and perhaps attract more funding, from government and the private sector. 

James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough:

“I’m delighted the first tranche of proposals has got the thumbs-up. This is about getting our unique market towns fit for the future. Historically neglected, they’re  crucial to our whole region, both as communities and as social and economic hubs and the Combined Authority is committed to helping each one prosper, taking their surrounding communities forward with them.

“More people live in our market towns than in our cities. They are Cambridgeshire’s backbone – and they should be its powerhouse too. They’ve already got a fantastic history and I want them to have a fantastic future as well. That means investment and that’s what the Combined Authority is putting in, along with fighting tirelessly for the road and rail infrastructure that joins up, links in, and levels up.”

“It’s about turning dreams into reality. The Masterplans pinpoint what our towns say they need most and reveal huge opportunities for sustainable growth, better transport, improved accessibility and more skills training. I hope that each market town will secure a good slice of the funding and the Town teams and districts will partner ever more closely with the Mayoral Combined Authority to help create the towns these communities want for themselves.”