Mind the Gap - Historic England welcomes ‘playful addition’ to Wisbech town centre as part of £1.9 million regeneration project
PUBLISHED: 16:21 22 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:21 22 December 2017
Historic England described proposals to create a viewing platform within a newly built community hub at 24 High Street, Wisbech – know as The Gap- as “an interesting and playful addition” to the town centre.
Architects working alongside the National Lottery-funded Wisbech High Street Project team have submitted a planning application to create The Gap that was once home to Cook’s Butchers.
The proposal will create what Fenland Council believes to be “an exceptional piece of public art” with a contemporary, multifunctional space that could stage community events, exhibitions and activities.
Dallas-Pierce-Quintero’s (D-P-Q) design includes a public viewing platform, 12.5 metres above ground level..
“Our aspiration is to reimagine this site and bring it back to life, so that it celebrates the place of Wisbech and captures the views of its surroundings,” says a design and access statement.
“The challenge is to create a space which is uplifting and changes people’s perceptions of what is currently an eyesore.”
The Gap forms part of a regeneration project being delivered by the council following the awarding of a £1.9 million Heritage Lottery Fund award.
General management of the site will be the responsibility of ‘Mind the Gap’, a group made up of representatives from the district and town councils, the Wisbech Society, Ferry Project and Street Pride
Edward James of Historic England said: “We recognise that the proposed structure does not aim to reflect the prevailing eighteenth and nineteenth century architectural character of the original structure at No.24 or the adjoining buildings.
“However, we consider that, given the present constraints, the temporary nature of the proposal and in lieu of a viable opportunity to permanently redevelop the site at this time, the proposed structure would be an interesting and playful addition to the streetscape in Wisbech’s town centre and conservation area”
He added: “The site has been sadly neglected and presently detracts from the appearance of the High Street.
“This scheme would bring the site back into a use that would engage the local community, provide a social and cultural space, and would contribute to the High Street’s distinctiveness.”
The district council says that because of “funding constraints and the need to regenerate other High Street buildings” the proposed design is temporary but includes a permanent metal structure to accommodate any future building if and when more funding becomes available.
Councillor David Oliver, Fenland District Council’s Cabinet member for heritage, said: “The Heritage Lottery funding has enabled us to put this exciting and ambitious plan forward to bring an eyesore on our Wisbech High Street back into public use.
“Community engagement told us that people wanted The Gap to have a ‘wow factor’ that would improve the streetscene and raise the profile of the town, and these plans will help us deliver that.”