Top investors are queuing up to fund a multi-million pound retail and offices development in the heart of Peterborough with detailed plans due to be unveiled within 12 months.
At least three leading investment companies are said to be ready to sink millions of pounds in the future of the city in a move that would see the revival of the massive North Westgate development.
Civic leaders are hoping talks with the three companies, which have not been named, will lead to new plans for the development being published next spring.
If successful, it will be the latest in a series of major economic boosts for the city bringing new jobs and prosperity to Peterborough.
Peterborough City Council leader Councillor Marco Cereste said talks are currently underway between three heavyweight investors and the council to breathe new life into the North Westgate project.
Negotiations have been going on for some months.
A planning application for the £480 million scheme was submitted to the council four years ago by the owners of Peterborough Queensgate shopping centre Hammersons.
But the credit crunch and the recession saw the supply of cash dry up and since then the plans, according to Hammersons’ spokespeople, have simply remained “under review”.
Cllr Cereste said: “There are three internationally recognised investors with whom we are working to come forward with a serious scheme for North Westgate.
“North Westgate is still a very realistic venture. We hope to have a plan ready for consultation in about 12 months.
“This investment will be worth hundreds of millions of pounds and we have been talking to some of these people for some months already and have been having regular meetings.”
But Cllr Cereste said the new scheme would not be the same as the original plans and the development was likely to take in the area from the Queensgate shopping centre across Bourges Boulevard and into the land around the railway station.
He said; “The economic climate has changed and the offering will be different. The plans will be totally new – no-one will have seen them before.”
A spokesperson for Hammersons said the firm’s focus was on improving Queensgate but the North Westgate proposals were being discussed.
Chief executive of Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, John Bridge, said: “There is strong interest in North Westgate. We’re seeing investors and companies looking very favourably at Peterborough.”
The last few months have been an exciting time for Peterborough with a series of development announcements.
Just a few weeks ago it was revealed the budget clothes retailer Primark is to move into the Queensgate centre and clothing chain TK Maxx is to open in the former Woolworth’s store in Bridge Street, Peterborough.
Work is due to start on the construction of 300 eco-homes and community facilities on Peterborough’s South Bank near the Peterborough United football ground.
Aberdeen Asset Management has announced it is about to start work on a £25 million scheme to revamp the Brotherhood Retail Park, in Lincoln Road.
At Friday night’s Ambassadors Dinner - an event organised by Opportunity Peterborough to promote the city’s successes – Cllr Cereste promised business leaders that more businesses will be attracted to invest in the city.
He told the audience at The Exec centre in Alwalton: “There has never been a better time to invest in Peterborough, solid growth is happening now.
“Peterborough is a can do city and we are open for business. 2011 is about attracting new and successful businesses to our city so that together we can build a bigger, brighter, better future – second best is not an option.
“2011 is a year of opportunity. I passionately believe that we are creating the right environment for investment, innovation and – above all – an improved quality of life.”
North Westgate: the vision
THE £480 million plans for North Westgate caused much excitement when unveiled about four years ago.
The scheme included proposals for a 730,000 sq ft retail, entertainment and leisure quarter next to the Queensgate centre.
It would involve the modernisation of Queensgate forming a single destination of more than 1.6million sq ft. There were to have been 50 shop units and five large flagship stores covered by a dramatic glass roof.
There were also plans to relocate the bus station and create a new car park.