March Future High Streets Fund

Fenland District Council (FDC) has secured funding, from a range of sources, including Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority and the DLUHC for an ambitious £8.4 million investment in March town centre.

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The investment will deliver five projects, transforming the heart of the town into a welcoming new destination which benefits local people, businesses, and visitors. Fenland District Council (FDC) has secured funding, from a range of sources, including Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority and the DLUHC for an ambitious £8.4 million investment in March town centre. The investment will deliver five projects, transforming the heart of the town into a welcoming new destination which benefits local people, businesses, and visitors.

"Our vision is that March will be a destination market town where people want to live and work. We will be a destination for shoppers and visitors looking to enjoy the revitalised high street. We will be a destination for employers looking for ambitious and highly skilled employees. We will be a destination for households looking for affordable homes in friendly, safe, attractive neighbourhoods.

We will do this by making the centre of town a high-quality destination for people looking to work, shop, eat, drink and relax. Shoppers will have a choice of prestigious brands and niche, locally rooted offers. The strength of the retail offer will be matched by the night-time economy, offering a wide variety of food, drink and entertainment venues."

These webpages are one of the tools we and our partners will be using to ensure that local people are kept informed of all of the exciting work we are bringing forward in March.


What is the Future High Streets Fund?

The £8.4 million investment into March comes from a range of sources, including £6.4 million from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Future High Streets Fund and £2 million from the Cambridgeshire Peterborough Combines Authority (CPCA). March represents one of 72 chosen towns across England to be awarded a FHSF grant following a successful bid by Fenland District Council in 2019.

The Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) is a £1 billion fund, unveiled in the 2018 Budget as part of the 'Our Plan for the High Street' roadmap for regenerating high streets to support local economic growth by Government.

The FHSF is about supporting high streets to tackle the challenges they face, including the rise of online and out-of-town retail. It aims to enable towns to look to the future and bring customers back to the high street by creating unique experiences that cannot be found online.

The DLUHC Future High Streets Fund Overview contains details of the fund and how it will be delivered and implemented across England.


The Future of March Town Centre

The March (FHSF) programme will allow the town to reach its true potential by enhancing some fantastic existing assets to create a new and inclusive space for locals, businesses and visitors. The programme will help March prepare for its future and address a range of key issues currently facing the town.


The Challenges

In common with many rural towns, March has suffered from the national trends affecting the way we use our town centres. However, there are specific local factors that are affecting the vitality of the town centre.

Broad Street is the at the heart of our town. It is a three-lane carriageway which cuts the town centre in half, providing the only connection over the River Nene. Broad Street is difficult to cross and experiences significant congestion which discourages visitors and shoppers. Similarly, the River Nene waterfront is hidden from the public, being difficult to access and impossible to appreciate. The River Nene and Broad Street are major barriers in the town centre and provide a textbook example of local severance.

There are a number of derelict, unused and underused buildings throughout the town centre. This includes properties surrounding the Market Place with its beautiful Town Hall, units along Broad Street and in the Acre Road area which has a particular concentration. Vacancy rates are increasing, and the town centre continues to lose important retail anchors. There is no 24-hour economy in March, the hospitality and leisure offers are poor, and the available first floor space on Broad Street and beyond has failed to attract residents or businesses. All of this is evidence of a town centre struggling with a deteriorating investment climate and large viability gaps.

To address these issues Partners now have approval to progress with the following five transformational projects:

·       A dramatic intervention to transform Broad Street

·       Opening up the Riverside areas to improve visibility and access

·       Redeveloping the historic Market Place

·       Acre Road Regeneration

·       Reactivating vacant units & Flats Over Shops programme

The March FHSF programme has been informed by previous community and stakeholder engagement including the work to support the Icon for pdf Growing Fenland - March Final Report [836.58KB]

To keep up to date with the latest developments be sure to follow Fenland District council on our social media pages Fenland District Council Facebook and Fenland District Council Twitter

Tell us what you think using the hashtags #FutureHighStreets #MarchFHSF.

Five projects make up the March FHSF programme. They were selected from a large number of project proposals.
This page includes a range of frequently asked questions about the Future Highstreets Fund Project in Fenland.

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