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Mayor backs Fenland and East Cambridgeshire proposals for market town funding

24 November 2020

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Mayor James Palmer will this week ask the Combined Authority Board to approve Combined Authority funding for a raft of imaginative projects for market towns in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire.

On the table, some £1.5 million for Chatteris, Ely, Soham and Whittlesey, all seeking to increase their pull for residents, visitors, and businesses. Future-proofing and history are high on the town’s wish-lists, with heritage and digital connectivity, plus ideas for greener active travel and Covid-19 recovery.    

In September, the Board approved four proposals, a total of £599,900 for projects in the first tranche of market town bids. A further £1,426,169 is now on offer for this second tranche, ten more project proposals which are recommended for approval at tomorrow’s Combined Authority Board (Wednesday 25th November).

James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough:

“Investment in our market towns is the key to our continued prosperity and the Combined Authority is in the right position to deliver it. Strung throughout the county, our market towns provide economic and social hubs for very substantial rural populations. I want all communities in Cambridgeshire to thrive and that means ensuring these much-loved centres are equipped for the future – dynamic go-to destinations for business and pleasure, properly linked in by road, rail and digital, and attractive to residents, visitors, and new businesses alike.

“Through Covid, we’ve glimpsed a future that may be less city-focussed, with stronger local communities and digital connectivity freeing more people to work smarter and more flexibly. Market towns, with their generous space, fresh air, community feel, and scope for good, green growth are in a wonderful place to grasp opportunity and move forward. The Combined Authority investment programme will help drive this.”

The Mayor is urging the Board to approve the following 10 proposals for a combined £1,426,169 of funding towards projects in the area’s key market towns:

Whittlesey Heritage Centre (£500,000) - to facilitate the development of a dedicated Heritage Centre. A relatively modest building is proposed. The building will include one or more education spaces or classrooms, flexible space to incorporate small exhibitions and indoor events, coffee shop, toilets, and office and storage space suitable for staff and volunteers.

Whittlesey Heritage Walk (£218,169) - to create a new walk that would provide a distinctive offer to encourage the exploration of this historic Fenland town. The route will include historic landmarks and provide insight into the history and heritage of the town in addition to key information regarding bus stop locations, access to Whittlesea Railway Station and the National Cycling Network Route 63 which runs through the town.

Chatteris Town Fund (£92,000) - to make Chatteris town centre more attractive improving the appearance of street furniture and enabling refurbishment works to help businesses recover post Covid-19.

Ely Digital Connectivity (£195,000) – to install additional access points (APs) to significantly extend the towns free public Wi-fi network, whilst at the same time, upgrade the network to capture and analyse data through additional monitoring technology.

Ely Steeple Row (£96,000) – to undertake environmental improvements to Steeple Row Ely including new pathways, furniture, lighting, signage, digital access points, security and enhanced pedestrian access into High Street.

Ely and Soham Town Centre Covid-19 Recovery (£190,000) – to deliver key aspects of recovery and future proofing of the town centres and linked infrastructure to –

  • Implementing an enhancement scheme to improve the appearance for both Ely and Soham town centres by introducing new and improved facilities adding to the vitality and vibrancy of the town.
  • Investment in infrastructure, signage and street furniture to encourage footfall, visitor access, confidence and enjoyment.
  • Developing a new business ‘nurturing’ culture by providing innovative infrastructure to support the existing experience economy, tourism, culture and leisure industry.

Ely and Soham Evidence Strategy (£40,000) – to engage specialist advice and to develop an evidence-based city centre delivery strategy for both Ely and Soham. 

Soham Digital Connectivity (£95,000) – to install additional access points to significantly extend the towns free public Wi-fi network, whilst at the same time, upgrade the network to capture and analyse data through additional monitoring technology.