Funding bids for new visitor centre and heritage walk in Whittlesey to be submitted

Funding bids for a new visitor centre and heritage walk in Whittlesey are to be submitted later this month.
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Bids totalling nearly £720,000 will be sent to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority ahead of its board meeting on November 25.

The vast majority of the bids (£500,000) would be for a new centre adjacent to King’s Dyke Nature Reserve which would “tell the story of Whittlesey from Bronze Age to present day”.

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The site is particularly relevant because it is close to the original location for Must Farm - ‘Britain’s Pompeii’ - where Bronze Age boats and numerous historical artifacts have been discovered.

A new visitor centre could be built opposite King's Dyke Nature ReserveA new visitor centre could be built opposite King's Dyke Nature Reserve
A new visitor centre could be built opposite King's Dyke Nature Reserve

According to a masterplan for Whittlesey, which was compiled as part of the combined authority’s Growing Fenland project, a “network of local organisations such as museums, societies and community groups would be invited to use the facilities for exhibition purposes”.

The land would be given free of charge by Forterra.

The Growing Fenland project will see funding bids of up to £1 million submitted from Fenland’s market towns considered by the combined authority. So far, Whittlesey has received £56,500 to install new interactive flooding signs.

It is anticipated that the new heritage centre would provide around 50 events per year, making a loss in its first year before later becoming financially viable as the number of visitors increases.

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If the funding bid is successful, Whittlesey Town Council would then provide an additional £8,000, while Fenland District Council would add its support with a contribution of £1,666.

Moreover, £218,000 is being sought for a new heritage walk which would begin and end at the new centre and provide residents and visitors with background information on key landmarks in the town.

The Whittlesey masterplan states: “At the moment, existing signage and general wayfinding is generic and does not direct local people or visitors to our assets.”

The walk would take in historic landmarks including: St Andrew’s and St Mary’s churches, the Buttercross, Portland House and the mud walls.

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There would be markings on pavements and signage along the way, while the installation of the route is seen an opportunity to improve pavements, footpaths, railings and street furniture on the way.

The masterplan also includes: re-locating the Friday market to the pedestrianised area of High Causeway to “increase footfall” before turning Market Place into a “piazza” with outdoor dining; a new park and ride scheme from the town centre to Peterborough; and a new relief road from Coates to the Morrisons/Cardea Roundabout in Peterborough.