Detailed proposals aimed at bringing about the wholesale regeneration of Wisbech and its surrounding area have been published. They have been drawn up to carry forward the aims of the Wisbech 2020 Vision, the ambitious project that was set in motion in April 2012.
The 29-point "Action Plan" for the Vision was launched on January 29, 2013. It seeks to make Wisbech "a great place to work, a great place to live and a great place to visit".
Widely known as the Capital of the Fens, Wisbech is home to a quarter of all Fenland's residents. It is renowned for its elegant Georgian architecture and its people are justly proud of its history and traditions. But today the town is also facing many tough challenges.
In 2012 Councillor Alan Melton and Councillor Nick Clarke, the Leaders of Fenland District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, came together with Stephen Barclay, MP for North East Cambridgeshire, and expressed their joint resolve to tackle those challenges. They committed themselves and their authorities to work together to improve the lives of all who live and work in the town.
Thus the Wisbech 2020 Vision was born. Its aim is to create a bold plan for the future success of the town and all its communities and to agree a routemap of how to secure it.
As its name suggests, this is not something that can be achieved overnight. Nor can it be delivered by politicians or local authorities acting on their own. Nor is it an attempt to replace existing groups or initiatives.
Instead, it is a long-term ambition, encompassing many strands - economic, social, cultural and educational. Its success relies on the joint efforts and insights of the whole community, including individual residents, businesses, voluntary groups and charities.
Work on developing the Vision began in March, 2012. Key themes were identified and a series of workshops designed to flesh out those themes were held over the following few months. Participants included local people.
The Vision has attracted enthusiastic backing from beyond Fenland's borders. Academics from the University of Cambridge have agreed to undertake a detailed analysis of the town's future economic role. Anglia Ruskin University has also expressed its interest and support, as has the Bishop of Ely.
Funding has been secured from the Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership for a new horticultural skills centre at the Delamore plant.
The National Trust is working with the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust on an exciting new heritage project.
Many other projects have been considered during the process. On October 26 a Vision Summit brought together all the key participants to review progress. Detailed recommendations were then drawn up to form the agreed Action Plan that was published in January 2013.
An article about the vision appeared in the Guardian on Monday 4 February 2013. Read the article here.