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Preparation works get underway in first step of plans to transform March

Ambitious plans to regenerate March town centre will take a step forward this week when preparation works for the first project get underway.

Future High Street Fund

One of the schemes in the £8.4million March Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) work is to transform the underused riverside, opening it up and improving visibility and access in order to bring the picturesque river area into the heart of the town.

The first stage of the project will begin on Thursday, 11 November, when the lower branches of trees situated behind the Broad Street toilet block will be removed - a pruning technique known as crown lifting - to increase visibility of the river.

The work is expected to last a week. Afterwards, the ground will be cleared and wildflower planting will commence on both banks later this month.

The March FHSF programme, which is being led by Fenland District Council with support from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, has been made possible thanks to £6.4million from the Government's Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) and £2million from the Combined Authority.

Cllr Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council's Portfolio Holder for Social Mobility and Heritage, said: "It's great to see the first steps getting underway in what will be a series of fantastic, transformational projects for the wonderful market town of March. The investment will help us to improve residents' and visitors' experience of the town and ensure it remains stable, sustainable and thriving for years to come."

Cllr Jan French, Deputy Leader of Fenland District Council and county, district, and town ward member for March, added: "The Future High Streets work is a once in a generation opportunity for our town, so I'm delighted that we will soon start to see the tangible differences it will make to local people, businesses and visitors.

"The Covid-19 pandemic dealt a harsh blow to high streets and accelerated the trend towards online shopping, so this can't come at a better time. It's all about making the town centre somewhere people want to visit to shop, eat, drink and relax."

The March FHSF work will deliver five projects by the end of March 2024. They are:

  • Transformation of Broad Street, to create a welcoming pedestrianised open space in the centre of town
  • Opening up the riverside areas into Broad Street, to improve visibility and access
  • Redevelop the historic Market Place, re-instating historic features close to the town hall and refreshing the car park
  • Regeneration of the Acre Road area, creating a new gateway development to link existing historic assets with the town centre
  • Reactivating vacant units and delivering a Flats Over Shops programme - a grant programme to support owners in bringing vacant shops into use and to assist in the conversion of upper floor space into town centre living

The projects will work in conjunction with the March Area Transport Strategy (MATS) work, which will improve traffic flow and allow the town centre to become greener and safer, especially for pedestrians and cyclists.

Article added: November 2021

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