Huge support for waterfront scheme

By SUE SKINNERA £47m scheme to transform the riverside at Wisbech has been given an “overwhelming” vote of confidence by the public.An exhibition showing how the Nene Waterfront Regeneration Project will revitalise 20 acres of derelict land with hundreds of new homes and business and leisure facilities attracted more than 600 people.

A £47m scheme to transform the riverside at Wisbech has been given an "overwhelming" vote of confidence by the public.

An exhibition showing how the Nene Waterfront Regeneration Project will revitalise 20 acres of derelict land with hundreds of new homes and business and leisure facilities attracted more than 600 people.

There were more than 50 inquiries to buy houses and flats - even before detailed plans have been submitted - and more than 20 businesses expressed an interest in taking office space in the £3.5m Boathouse building.

The proposed mooring berths and retail space along the waterfront also caught the imagination of visitors, with one couple already planning a ground-floor restaurant.

Contractor Taylor Woodrow, which is building more than 300 properties as part of the scheme, had invited local people to the display at the new Axiom Foyer building in North Street to get an insight into what the future holds for their town.

Details of the public-funded elements of the project, including the Boathouse, the expansion of the yacht harbour and a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Nene, were shown by Fenland Council on behalf of funding partners, the East of England Development Agency, English Partnerships and the European Regeneration Development Fund, administered by GO-East.

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Work on the Boathouse, with its 31 business units, conference centre, yacht club and harbour office is due to start in the summer.

The council conducted a questionnaire to test support for the development as a whole, with 95pc of visitors who completed it saying they liked the design concept and thought it would boost the economy of Wisbech. Suggestions included on the form will be fed into the planning process.

Council leader Geoffrey Harper said: "The public response to the exhibition of the proposed development of this derelict area of Wisbech was truly overwhelming and wonderfully positive.

"Many people simply could not believe their eyes when they saw what was going to be built in the town over the next four years.

"The vast majority of visitors were absolutely delighted that Wisbech's fortunes were at long last set to improve dramatically.

"This area has lain derelict for more than 20 years and Wisbech as a town has not had anything to look forward to for many more years than that."

Mr Harper added: "This exciting and modern development will kick-start an improvement to the economic fortunes of the town and the whole of Fenland. More than 90pc of people who saw the exhibition were enthusiastic about the development and were confident it would make a real difference to the local economy."