Wisbech 2020 Vision

The Wisbech 2020 Vision was introduced in 2012. Its aim was to regenerate the town and surrounding area, making it a "great place to work, live and visit."

It was a joint project, led from the outset by the Leaders of Fenland District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council and Stephen Barclay, MP for North-East Cambridgeshire. It also involved a wide range of partners, with Anglian Water playing a large role as part of their community business programme, alongside many passionate members of the community.

The Vision formally launched in 2013 with a detailed Action Plan. This set out 29 short, medium and long-term actions. As time passed, the aims of the project evolved as it was recognised that a greater focus was needed on tackling social issues. The original (2013) themes of live, work and visit were replaced by infrastructure and growth, town centre, skills and education, health and wellbeing and communication in 2015.

Achievements

The Wisbech 2020 Vision has been responsible for delivering many positive changes to the town. This is testament to the hard work of the organisations involved and the enthusiasm of community groups who have championed for changes.

Achievements include:

Education and skills

  • A £6million investment for new facilities that opened at the College of West Anglia in 2015, in addition to the £7.2million Technology Centre. Later, a new specialist Anglian Water training facility opened at the College of West Anglia Campus. Previously students had to travel to Peterborough to undertake this training
  • £1.5million awarded by the Wisbech Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) to local businesses to run employment and skills events
  • Mock interviews undertaken between local employers and sixth form students at Thomas Clarkson Academy to help them become employment ready
  • More than 300 schoolgirls from 12 schools took part in engineering workshops and met female engineers in a two-day Anglian Water event to celebrate Women in Engineering Day 2019.

Health and Wellbeing

  • £192,000 funding awarded by the Department of Communities and Local Government to tackle poor quality private rented housing. Over 2,000 properties were visited and remedial action enforced where needed
  • As part of the 'I Love Wisbech' community conversation, over 1,000 local people provided valuable feedback surrounding ideas for future services and projects within the town
  • A new £75,000 Skate Park was opened on Bath Road, Waterlees. This was part funded by a £30,000 grant from Clarion Futures. The rest of the money was provided through S106 funding, Fenland District Council and community fundraising
  • £8million investment in North Cambridgeshire Hospital, Wisbech
  • An expansion of the Ferry Project, a night shelter providing emergency accommodation and support for homeless people in Wisbech. This was following a successful bid for nearly £135,000 from the Government's Controlling Migration Fund.

Infrastructure and built environment

  • £6.5million funding was provided by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) in 2017 to investigate the viability of a Wisbech Garden Town. This could bring 10,000-12,000 new homes into the area together with better transport links, more jobs and improved health, education and skills training for local people. £3.2million of this funding was to carry out a further stage of the Wisbech Rail study, which was to investigate the feasibility of re-opening the Wisbech-March railway line
  • Wisbech piloted the worldwide debut of revolutionary flood management scheme, TRICO, developed by Dutch water experts Royal HaskoningDHV, to explore and improve the town's future flood resilience. This work was part funded with a 55,000 euro donation from the Dutch Government's Partners for Water programme, which funds innovative water projects around the world
  • £10.5million of funding was provided for the Wisbech Access Strategy work, a package of short-term schemes to improve the transport network in the area
  • HRH The Prince of Wales visited an exhibition at St Peter and Paul's Church in 2018. This detailed plans for the town's future and showcased the vital work of organisations, charities and volunteers in the local community. Prince Charles also invited partners behind the plans to visit his new sustainable housing development in Cornwall, which shared many of the principles behind the concept of a Garden Town
  • Wisbech was named a pilot 'Pride of Place' town by one of The Prince of Wales' charities, Business in the Community (BITC), in 2018 in recognition of regeneration work being delivered through the Wisbech 2020 Vision
  • £300million investment approved for the A47, which included much needed improvements to the Guyhirn roundabout
  • A successful bid for a £1.9million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund Townscape Heritage Scheme for the Wisbech High Street Project. This project is ongoing but has already made improvements to buildings, some of which were dilapidated, on the high street and engaged the community about local heritage.

Local economy

  • As part of their Market Towns programme, in 2019 the CPCA funded the £200,000 creation of a Growing Fenland regeneration Masterplan for Wisbech. Later, up to £1million was then available to bid for towards capital projects. Projects to date include a business grants scheme to reduce the impact of COVID-19, a replacement Shopwatch radio programme and improvements to Wisbech Market Place.
  • Opening of a new popular retail park at the old Tesco site on Cromwell Road.
  • Launch of a new Wisbech Tesco Bus service, with its route and timetable developed from resident feedback.
  • A number of hugely popular community events, such as the Rock Festival and WisBEACH Day organised by Wisbech Town Council, attracting thousands of people to the town.

The future

The collaborative approach by the partner organisations involved in the Wisbech 2020 Vision will continue to deliver on many of the priorities identified in the Action Plan, and new and evolving priorities in the future. The strong partnership links forged through the Vision work will be invaluable as the town grows and regenerates in years to come.

A number of projects are still ongoing including socio-economic improvements delivered by the 'I Love Wisbech' group and the county's 'Think Communities' team, and projects identified through the Growing Fenland Masterplan for Wisbech, such as developing a splash park attraction in Wisbech Park and creating a culture quarter in the town, linked with the developing Fenland Cultural Strategy.

The Wisbech High Street Project also continues to deliver improvements to properties on the High Street and heritage-related community events and skills training sessions.

As well as identifying further potential improvements to drive regeneration, the Growing Fenland Masterplan for Wisbech also provides the town with clear, strong case for securing additional inward investment from Government, council partners, or the private sector wherever possible.

If you have any questions about the Wisbech 2020 Vision, please contact info@fenland.gov.uk.

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