Holbeach town regeneration plan gathers pace after initial bid for Future High Streets funding goes inThree moments in history of looking at HolbeachGreat and good join the regeneration conversation
Imagine what a windfall of between £5million and £7million from the Government could do for Holbeach town centre.
The creation of an entertainment, leisure, office and shopping complex on land off Park Road and High Street, known as Chequers Yard.
A more pedestrian-friendly, cycle-friendly area around Market Hill, currently a magnet for congestion as West End meets Boston Road South, Park Road, High Street and Church Street.
Links between the new £7million Centre of Excellence in Agri-Food Technology, part of the new Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ), National Centre for Food Manufacturing and University Academy of Holbeach (UAH).
All three are part of a bid for investment to regenerate Holbeach town centre, making it a more inviting place for residents, shoppers and visitors.
Coun Nick Worth, deputy leader of South Holland District Council and Lincolnshire County Council member for Holbeach, said: "An interim bid has gone in to the Government for its Future High Streets Fund just to show that we're serious about what we're going to do.
"At the moment, we're getting more detailed costings for some of the work around Market Hill to make it more pedestrian-friendly and there are a number of options that we have.
"We're also looking at a big area of land between Park Road and High Street, Chequers Yard, to try and create a public space that will draw people who go to the Tesco Superstore into the town centre.
"The third element of the bid is to look at introducing cycleways and walkways, making it easier for people to ride and walk around the town.
"We're also looking at potentially putting in a cycle hub, possibly with shops, because we're aware that some people have cars, but others don't.
"Finally, we also want to connect the town centre with the FEZ, University of Lincoln and UAH, looking at putting some student accommodation in at the Chequers Yard for use when space elsewhere in the town is taken up."
Holbeach was one of 50 towns, the only one in South Holland, to have been shortlisted for the Future High Streets Fund through which £1billion is being made available to successful bidders can "to help transform their high streets and town centres".
Speaking about the scheme last August, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: "High streets have a crucial role to play as we work to grow the economy of all parts of the country.
"Our £1 billion Future High Streets Fund is key to delivering this, empowering local leaders to help transform their high streets and town centres as consumer habits change by investing in housing, workplaces, infrastructure and culture."
Holbeach Civic Society gave people a chance to have their input in the town's potential regeneration when a public meeting was held last November.
Since then, a project team based at the district council has been talking to land and property owners in Holbeach as part of putting together a more detailed bid for cash from the Future High Streets Fund.
Coun Worth said: "We're looking at putting in a bid of about £5million to £7million and we've been round Holbeach to get property valuations, working with two or three major property owners to see how we can work with them to do this.
"We may have to use some funding from the district council to buy some properties that are outside the scope of the Future High Streets Fund.
"But as soon as we're through the coronavirus crisis, we'll go straight into a consultation phase based on what people have already told us."
Nearly £12million worth of investment has been directed towards Holbeach already, with estimated cost for the new A17/A151 Peppermint Junction roundabout near the FEZ put at £4.85million.
But a successful Future High Streets Fund bid could mean even more cash for the town and Coun Worth said: "If we can pull it all off, I can see a new Holbeach town centre based around the Chequers Yard.
"It could be quite vibrant, with entertainment, pop-up shops, some leisure and office space, along with accommodation and cafes where people can sit during the day or early evening.
"Once we've got that, hopefully, the knock-on effect will be people spending their money locally and engaging with everybody else in the area."
The first of three recent attempts to look at Holbeach in the feature came with the publication of a Parish Plan in 2008.
It listed more than 60 recommendations aimed at improving the "economic vitality of the main town itself, including the possibility of linking Boston Road South car park with High Street by creating "a new, central shopping areas."
Then in 2009, a report on Holbeach Conservation Area was published by architects Anderson & Glenn, based near Kirton.
One of the report's suggestions was for county highways manager to look at "whether alternative means of controlling the complex junction at Market Hill can be achieved in order to reduce traffic build-up and provide a better environment for pedestrians".
The response, ten years later, was a Holbeach Transport Strategy from Lincolnshire County Council.
One of the ideas outlined in the strategy was "an opportunity to develop a comprehensive cycling and walking network for Holbeach", while another was "to unlock the Market Hill junction and make it a more attractive space at the heart of the town".
Three of Holbeach's most prominent figures have spoken about the prospect of the town's regeneration moving ahead.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach, a member of the House of Lords since 2006, said: "There has been a lot of discussion about the Future High Streets Fund in Parliament because it's quite a good scheme and I think Holbeach is very much the kind of place it's designed to help.
"Everybody has to consider different alternative and there are bound to be some compromises.
"But if we can get a scheme that helps to link the vast number of people who shop at Tesco with the number who shop on High Street, giving the weekly market just that little bit of an extra boost too, then I think it'll be very good."
Holbeach parish councillor Isobel Hutchinson said: "I am behind the ideas being putting forward and hope we are successful in getting funding.
"With the uncertainty of what the future holds for our business community at present, it is vital that we all work together to support the town so we can come back stronger."
Professor Val Braybrooks, Dean of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, said: "Holbeach is a great town and investment is needed to enable our food centre and academies to grow.
"It is essential that we provide a great experience for our visitors, students and staff so that they choose to study, work, live and invest in Holbeach and help to secure the town’s credentials as the UK’s premier food town.
"Therefore, we are pleased to support South Holland District Council’s application for funding from the Future High Street Fund to improve the prospects for the town."
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