Work starts at Wisbech High Street 'gap site'

24 Wisbech High St. From left, scaffolder Kiean Boughen, Etec contracts manager Jason Robinson, FDC head of leisure services Phil Hughes, Cllr Chris Seaton, Etec construction manager Larry Donovan.

Contractors have begun work on filling in ‘The Gap’ that has marred Wisbech High Street for most of the past 40 years.

Fenland District Council has secured the necessary funding to allow the former Cook’s butchers site at 24 High Street to be brought back into use.

Local councillors were concerned that work on the complex site would close the road and be hugely detrimental to local businesses. So, working with Wisbech Town Council, the contractor’s site yard has been located behind the Queen Mary Centre in Somers Road car park to make it possible to keep the road open and prevent this from happening.

Redevelopment into a ground floor shop and flats above is due to take a year-and-a-half because of the complexities of the site and significant necessary ground works. Above ground works are unlikely to be visible until around the end of this year, but residents and businesses are assured that work will be taking place.

Cllr Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Heritage, said: “Getting action on this site has been a long and complex project involving a lot of effort and determination from our members, officers and partners over several years.

“It represents another major step in our long running project to give a much needed up-lift to the historic high street.

“It’ll be of huge significance to the town to see this long-standing derelict site transformed into something that adds to the street scene and engenders further pride in the area.”

The redevelopment is part of the Council’s Wisbech High Street Project, launched in 2017 with £1.9 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Redevelopment has been supported with a grant from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s Market Towns Programme to help improve business premises on the High Street.

The project has allowed direct investment into properties, grants to enable private owners to improve their buildings and heritage related community activities.

Significant repairs to other High Street buildings have included at 13-17, where derelict first floors were brought back into use.

A plan is being worked on for the derelict 11-12 High Street with an options report due to go before Fenland’s Cabinet later this year.

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