One of March's oldest buildings gets a facelift with Council support
One of March's oldest Conservation Area buildings is getting a new lease of life with support from Fenland District Council.
Work on the previously vacant and partially derelict 26 Market Place, opposite March Town Hall and close to the Grade II Listed Ye Olde Griffin Hotel, is expected to be complete by September.
The redevelopment has become a labour of love for the mother and son team who bought it at auction not knowing the extent of its disrepair. The building, which has parts that date back to the 16th or 17th century and had been empty for several years, was close to being condemned.
A new tenant is lined up to move her beautician business into the ground floor and the rest of the building is being transformed into flats for rental.
Rama Ragupathy and Kamala Alagappan (Foster) outside the March Market Place property they're developing.
Cllr Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council's Portfolio Holder for Transport and lead member of the March Future High Streets steering group, said: "It's wonderful to see this enhancement of a building that has long been a detraction from the charm of the town centre's Conservation Area and may never have been redeveloped without Council support.
"The building faces onto the Market Place which has just had a £440k investment and will now add to the overall appeal of the area.
"All these different aspects are coming together to support the overall £multimillion regeneration of March town centre to make it attractive and viable now and into the future."
Kamala Alagappan (Foster), 60, has been in the construction industry for three decades and runs a firm offering quantity surveyor, project management and health and safety services, but had never completed her own renovation project.
She took on 26 Market Place with son Rama Ragapathy, 29, who joined the family business after university.
Kamala said "If we'd had the chance to look at the building before we bought it I don't think we would have gone through with it, but we love it now. And the people of March have been so welcoming."
Fenland District Council awarded the project a £25,000 grant from the Vacant Unit Activation Scheme, which is available to property owners who are looking to bring empty shops back into use.
The Vacant Unit Activation Scheme is part of the Council's March Future High Streets Fund project, which has been made possible thanks to £6.4million from the Government's Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) and £2million from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
Rama said: "At times we have looked at the budget and not felt it is commercially viable, but we've stuck with it because of the support of the Council.
"We couldn't have done this without the support of the Council and friends and family. We're so grateful.
"To see the Market Place being regenerated at the same time as our building has been really good.
"Cashflow is a linchpin of a project like this and when we received the £25,000 we were in such a difficult position we couldn't see a way out of it."
Vacant Unit Activation Scheme grants are available to eligible property owners in March until March 2024.
- For more information about the grant see our Vacant Unit Activation Scheme webpage.
- Or, if you think you might qualify to apply, contact: Project Officer Matt Wright on: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For more information on the March regeneration project, visit our March Future High Streets Fun webpages.