Consultants Metro Dynamic were appointed by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to produce Ely’s and Soham’s Masterplan in November 2019 each attracting a Central Government Fund of £1million. The aim of the Masterplan is to identify projects that enable market towns to contribute to the doubling of the GVA of the Combined Authority Area. The Soham Masterplan is perceived as a high-level document that sets out the projects that the consultant and the data available suggest will best achieve this.
The Masterplan was envisaged to act as template and roadmap but engagement and consultation through the implementation processes with Soham Town Council its residents and many other stakeholders was considered a key aspect to achieving successful outcomes in Soham.
A draft document was produced by these Consultants and discussed as an agenda item by East Cambridgeshire District Councillors at the Finance & Assets Committee held on Thursday 18 June 2020 to which the then Chairman Cllr Warner made representation both in concern and complaint.
The finalised Soham Masterplan may be viewed here
The matter was first discussed by Soham Town Council at its own July 2020 meeting under agenda item 48/20b and then again at an emergency meeting convened in October 2020 under agenda item 75/20 where a previously unplanned project, that of the potential purchase of no 50 High St, was approved. Due to time constraints in Bid process within 3 months the feasibility of delivery of such a project as this in terms of the buildings’ market value and condition together with financial & sustainability reports and options to match-funding were prepared . This extensive scrutiny and overview work culminated in a town-wide resident consultation just after Christmas 2020 which indicated that whilst residents were keen on the proposal but as ratepayers they were not prepared to match fund the necessary costs in its acquisition.
During this period an allocation of £200 000 was secured by District Cllrs and the Town Councils appointed Cllr for High St matters for upgrades and improvements to the High St raising some concern and comment that this had not received similar scrutiny, audit and consultation. For business owners who wish to apply for a grant (requires match funding) to improve the appearance of their shop fronts please click here (application run 20th June 2021 to 14th August 2021)
Another round of Bid and Funding requests occurred in early March 2021 and Soham Town Council has submitted a further application. For further information on this application please click here. As of July 2021 the outcome of this Bid has yet to be determined.