Work on what is likely to be the most significant development in Peterborough city centre for 30 years is about to get under way.
Contractors will start in days on a £38 million transformation of Peterborough’s 34-year-old Queensgate shopping centre to meet the ever changing demands of shoppers.
Once the three year project is completed, the 900,000 square foot shopping centre will feature a multi-screen cinema, a string of new restaurants and quality retailers plus a series of environmental improvements.
It may change the very character of the city centre from one where the shutters usually fall at 6pm to a vibrant centre that thrives into the night attracting people from Peterborough, its surroundings and from much further afield.
But it is feared the new look Queensgate will pose a challenge to businesses in the surrounding streets to innovate to attract customers.
Centre owners Lendlease and managers Invesco Real Estate announced the works are due to start today, Monday March 20, with an £8 million upgrade of the frontage and interior.
Works will include new lighting, doors and redesigned cladding, ceilings and internal finishes, to create a bright, more modern and contemporary look.
Highlighting the Queensgate’s community links, feature walls incorporating the history of Peterborough and local imagery will be included in the designs. Seating areas complementing the design and structure of the centre will be upgraded.
The new look has been designed by multi-award winning architecture studio, Benoy. Guy Thomas, head of retail asset management at Lendlease, said: “We are excited to commence the refurbishment works at Queensgate.
“With the customer, sustainability and high quality design at its heart, the works will further boost Queensgate’s green credentials, whilst creating a welcoming and engaging retail offering.
“With strong demand from leading brands, the new and improved façade of the malls will reflect Queensgate’s dominance in the East of England.”
All works will take place overnight when the centre is closed to ensure visitors and retailers are unaffected by the refurbishment. The first phase is due to be complete in November 2017.
The second phase, a £30 million cinema-led development with new restaurants and retail units is expected to start in early 2018 and be completed in 2019.
A Queensgate spokesman said: “It is the start of a new era for us. Our aspiration is for it to remain a key destination. People want more from shopping centres. It isn’t just about the quality of shops, the emphasis is on entertainment and experience.”
Julian Welch, director of commercial agents Barker Storey Matthews, in Peterborough, said: “This will be Peterborough’s most significant city centre development for 30 years.
“The initial works are necessary but won’t drive more shoppers to the centre. The cinema, associated restaurants and shops will really drive footfall and bring more people into the centre. It will keep people in the centre into the evening. It does focus retail in an inward looking shopping centre which will impact on the rest of the city centre with surrounding streets needing to be more innovative.”
Peterborough City Council leader John Holdich said: “Investment in Queensgate is good for Peterborough as a leading venue for shopping.
“The cinema and restaurants will be accessed without the centre being open but if there’s a demand I’m sure retailers will stay open to 8pm or 9pm. “This will bring new life to the city and comes as we try to improve our night-time economy.”
Last year Queensgate’s environmental department was awarded an industry first ISO 14001:2015 accreditation for its environmental management.
Since Invesco bought Queensgate and Lendlease took over the asset management 18 months ago, 16 new brands totalling over 55,000 sq ft of space have been added to Queensgate including most recently MAC Cosmetics and Hotel Chocolat.
In addition, Westgate Arcade has been refurbished and significant investment has been made in improving Queensgate’s car parks. Six years ago a £20 million investment was carried out paving the way for the arrival of budget fashion retailer Primark.