Plans to breathe new life into 'The Gap' in Wisbech High Street with an ambitious, permanent development have taken a step forward with a key contractor appointment.
Fenland District Council has appointed national property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard to project manage the exciting redevelopment at 24 High Street.
The former Cook's butchers site, which has been an eyesore on the High Street for the past three decades, is being redeveloped as part of the Council's Wisbech High Street Project.
The Wisbech High Street Project, which is supported by a £1.9million grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is working to regenerate the High Street's derelict sites and bring empty properties back into use, as well as restore other historic High Street buildings.
The new scheme for 'The Gap' will transform the site with a permanent development which will include new residential units and be sympathetic to the area's character and heritage.
Pick Everard will now work with architects on a final design for the site, before applying for planning permission.
The new proposal replaces the previous plans for 'The Gap', for a temporary, ten-year community space development.
The previous plans had been put forward due to earlier limitations and legal issues with the site, but a temporary public viewing platform included in the proposals sparked a mixed reaction from the public. Many were skeptical of whether such a development would fit in with the historic look of the High Street and local conservation area.
In the summer, after months of behind the scenes work on the project, the previous plans were shelved as the legal barriers which had prevented a permanent building from being put forward in the beginning were overcome by the Council.
Cllr Chris Seaton, the Council's Portfolio Holder for Social Mobility and Heritage, said: "We're delighted to be working with Pick Everard on this much-needed scheme. It will deliver a longer-term and much more economically viable solution for the site and will contribute vastly to the High Street's regeneration. Work can now begin on the design stage of this exciting project, ready for plans to be submitted early next year.
"It has been suggested that the Wisbech High Street Project relates only to one or two buildings, but the funding is being allocated to multiple different projects which, like this, will dramatically improve the appearance of the town for years to come."
Cllr Chris Boden, Leader of Fenland District Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance, added: "Some lengthy behind the scenes negotiations to resolve legal issues with 24 High Street have meant that a permanent building can now be built on the site, which is fantastic news.
"Having explored all the options, I'm pleased that we can now push ahead with the best possible scheme for this site."
Jeremy Ault, of Pick Everard, added: "Pick Everard is delighted to have been chosen to manage this project on behalf of Fenland District Council, and we look forward to working with local stakeholders to deliver this challenging but exciting scheme."
The Wisbech High Street Project was set up by the Council in 2017 after securing the National Lottery Heritage Fund grant.
As well as the building improvements, the project hosts a series of heritage-related activities for local community learning and participation, some of which have moved online this year.